Concert Review: Kurt Vile and the Violators at Modified Arts

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In preparation for Tuesday night's concert at Modified Arts I spent a good chunk of my day listening to the latest album from Philadelphia singer/songwriter Kurt Vile. Although Vile (yes that is his real name) has released three solo albums in the past two years it wasn't until I heard the song "Overnight Religion" off of his latest album Childish Prodigy that I began to take notice. Blog buzz was strong for the Philly native and reviews of the album earned him comparisons to everyone from Neil Young to Tom Petty.

The majority of the songs on Childish Prodigy are guitar heavy and even heavier on effects. After watching Kurt Vile and his touring band The Violators go through their sound check it became pretty clear that a live performance would be just the same. Unfortunately, this type of performance is not well suited for the soundboard at Modified Arts. Vile's lyrics were almost completely drowned out by the deafening guitars and too many effects. The only time that you were able to understand any of the words Vile was singing was when he performed his acoustic solos.

Kurt Vile and The Violators were all business on stage. They kicked off their set with Childish Prodigy standout track "Hunchback" and quickly moved to "Freak Train" and "Monkey." It was difficult to tell if this fast pace was just the bands style or if there was a lack of enthusiasm due to the modest crowd in attendance. I had expected a bigger crowd for this show, but it only goes to show that it is impossible to predict these types of things.

Solid performances were turned in by opening acts Soft Drink and Stella Luna but I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with Kurt Vile and The Violators. That is not to say that Kurt Vile is not a talented artist. But, for me, all of the great songs that Kurt Vile has were a bit lost under all of those heavy guitars and effects. This shouldn't discourage anyone from checking out Kurt Vile or his latest album Childish Prodigy. I personally look forward to seeing him again, although, hopefully it will be at a venue better suited for his brand of indie rock.

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Soft Drink, Stella Luna, and Kurt Vile and The Violators at Modified Arts.

Better Than: Seeing Chevelle at Marquee Theatre

Personal Bias: Childish Prodigy is one of my top ten favorite albums of 2009.

Random Detail: Kurt Vile was fired from his job as a forklift operator at the Philadelphia Brewing Co. for having a beer on the job.

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