Kurt Vile at Lucerna Music Bar, Prague 06-17-13

Kurt Vile Lucerna Prague

Kurt Vile Lucerna Prague

I have been to some pretty loud concerts in my day.  I remember Sugar at Deep Ellum Live during my freshman year in college.  Doves at the 9:30 club as a young professional just starting out in Washington, DC also left an indelible mark on my ear drums.  On Monday night, Kurt Vile and the Violators set out to prove that they could one-up even the loudest Bob Mould amp setup.  They made their point.

There’s something about Kurt Vile’s unlikely success that really draws me to his music.  This former Philly forklift driver turned dad of two daughters by day and rockstar by night is a pretty cool story.  The fact that he relays all of that in his lyrics in is laconic, wry drawl accent surrounded by some truly beautiful arrangements makes his work all the more compelling.  The other side of Kurt Vile is the side that is not afraid to rock.  From the first notes of “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day,” it was clear that the rockier, Dinosaur Jr. influenced side of Vile was going to tower over the folkie acoustic strummer on this Monday night.

Having lived through 30 years of concert going, there’s no doubt that this one was the loudest.  And though I felt bad about possibly showing up at my daughters’ weddings in some future year not being able to hear any of the vows being exchanged, on a selfish level, I loved the noise.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Vile’s more mellow outings on Smoke Ring for my Halo and the Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze but I also love the bombast and cathartic feedback on “Freak Train.”  There’s something about watching a dude with Brady Bunch-worthy hair fill a thousand(s) year old Prague cellar with enough feedback to make half of the crowd leave before the encore.  I’m not joking – half of the people there left.  Had I not been there, I’m sure my wife would have been one of them.

My wife and I retreated back from the front of the show and I sheepishly plugged my ears as “Freak Train” exploded to its hairy close.  After a short encore break, Vile and Co. returned to play a beautiful, disjointed rendition of “Baby’s Arms.”  It was as if I had just witnessed a row in the preceding set and “Baby’s Arms” was Vile’s way of offering his apology.  Whatever it was, it was a fitting comedown to the most bombastic event I’ve ever witnessed in Prague.

Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on who you ask.

Note: Click on the photos in this post for moving GIFs!

Kurt Vile at Lucerna Music Bar, Prague 06-17-13

Peter Hook and the Light – February 12, 2012 – Lucerna Music Bar – Prague, Czech Republic

I may as well have taken a time machine to 1979 London last night.  On the Lucerna Music Bar stage were 1/4 of Joy Division and his backing band, The Light, playing note-for-note renditions of every Joy Division song worth playing.  To top it off, there was a guy with the biggest mo-hawk I have ever seen right in the middle of my line of sight.  Normally, something in front of me standing over seven feet tall at a concert would be cause for annoyance.  However, this big, stupid, pogoing hairdo just helped to make the whole experience all the more legitimate.

The musicianship didn’t hurt either.  For a little under two hours, Peter Hook and the Light tore through a setlist that included the punkish early Joy Division (Warsaw) material, a top to bottom run through of their landmark album “Unknown Pleasures”, nuggets from their second album “Closer” and all the non-album singles.  It was a feast for fans of this band.  There was also a sense that Hook’s love for this music has endured the 30-some years since the death of Ian Curtis.  As a matter of fact, the sheer vigor with which these Goth classics sprang from the PA made them even more powerful.

Because of the musicianship and intensity of the show, one was able to overlook the abysmal, YouTube quality introductory video that preceded it.  The audio sounded muddled and completely unintelligible on Lucerna’s sound system.  A note to Mr. Hook: people coming to your show don’t need an introduction – we’re already converted.

Awful intro aside, anybody with even a passing interest in Joy Division should go to see this show.  It’s a tribute to a very influential band that has inspired countless present-day imitators and, even though he probably wasn’t alive in 1979, some dude with a really tall mo-hawk.