Kurt Vile, Lower Dens, Dark Dark Dark: London – live review

Kurt Vile, Lower Dens, Dark Dark Dark
The Forum, London
6th Dec 2012

Another Triple header for Willow Colios as he (just about) catches Kurt Vile, Lower Dens and Dark Dark Dark at the Kentish Town Forum.

I really like Dark Dark Dark. So it’s a shame that I catch just the last few tracks of their set! Final track ‘Daydreaming’ from their ‘Wild Go LP’ is achingly beautiful though and new record ‘Who Needs Who’ doesn’t disappoint either.


Next on stage is Lower Dens and for what they lack in melodies they make up for in soundscapes that drift and shimmer. The concept of “songs” isn’t really what they are about. But when they pick up the pace and throw more rhythms and beats into the mix things get a bit more interesting. These are often strange sci-fi sounds that could soundtrack Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or a 21st century equivalent.


Kurt Vile is on great form tonight. ‘Jesus Fever’ really gets things going early on, sounding like Harmacy-era Sebadoh with it’s guitar sound. This is followed by ‘On Tour’ about some of the perils, but mostly the pleasures of touring. Kurt Vile gets some Neil Young comparisons for his guitar style but there’s also something of Young in Vile’s ethos, the songs and records just flowing out of him in an unforced way. As he sings on ‘On Tour’, “It’s just me, being me, being free.”


The bass-free Violators offer triple guitar attack and Kurt has more effects pedals than you can shake a Fender mustang at. But Kurt Vile is equally at home on his own and the solo acoustic section of the gig is a highlight with ‘Peeping Tomboy’ a standout track. “I don’t wanna change but I don’t wanna stay the same” sings Kurt. Not wanting to grow up has been a recurring theme in rock’n’roll, visited by loads of musicians, notably Tom Waits and many more before and since. I’m sure it’s something most of us can identify with.

We get the full band back with combined 12 string acoustic and and 12 string electric action. ‘Society is my friend’ is another highlight of the set but it’s ‘Baby’s Arms’ that sends the audience into silent reverence for the first time tonight. It’s been a pretty chatty crowd but this somehow shuts everyone up and gets the biggest cheer of the night. Kurt Vile can hardly deny the packed crowd an encore and we get a ride on the feedback drenched ‘Freak Train’. It’s a bit of a freak out, followed by Kurt donning an acoustic guitar once more for a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Knocking on Heavens Door’. And not a lighter on sight. Well there is one but he quickly thinks better of it and puts it away. And thank goodness for that. It’s not a freakin’ U2 gig after all!


The Hunchback
Jesus Fever
On Tour
Ghost Town
In My Time
Peeping Tomboy
Overnite Religion
Society is My Friend
Baby’s Arms
Smoke Ring For My Halo
Freak Train
Knockin’ On Heavens Door

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Words by Willow Colios. More writing by Willow on Louder Than War can be found here.

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