[Photos and words by Rez Avissar]
Riding on a wave of blog hype and positive Pitchfork reviews, the draw was surprisingly underwhelming. Maybe he was feeling particularly lonesome, but his sound teetered toward rambling, minor key blues. It's his right to select which songs to play, but out of almost all of the outstanding peaks from Vile's two full-lengths, including "Freeway," "Beach On The Moon," "Red Apples," "Breathin Out," and "Can't Come," among others, Vile decided to play none. After the gig he explained to me that this is because of the absence of one or more performing partners (in The Violators), but he still could have played a track like "Beach On The Moon," which some in the audience were asking for.
Instead, he trudged more downier wistful territory in the vein of "My Best Friends (Don't Even Pass This)" (which he did play). A highlight was a version of the great "My Sympathy" which featured new falsetto melodies, the standout moment of his set to me. It was very intimate (dishes stacked in the backdrop et al) and many sat down cross-legged as Vile deftly plucked away and sang to us both through tinny small amps with the reverb all the way up. If he keeps up the quality of his better tracks (paradoxically his oddest and most accessible), I see his profile rising considerably. What could help him a lot, though, is a live show as captivating as his records.
update: I want to add that as of going to this show, I had only heard his two full-lengths. All the talk from his other shows seem to be highly positive and I'm definitely willing to give him the benefitting side of doubt, as I thoroughly enjoy his music. Also, he's got a brand new record on the way - check out this in-depth, revealing feature in Dusted magazine.
As for Sightings, a more aggressive, fleshed set than when I saw them last, a couple months ago. Quite a bit of energy coming from the band, and the right kind of space to see them. The audience needed to wake up, but Sightings definitely held it down, up-staging Vile. Also of note, they hung out all night and seem like genuinely chill human beings.