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Live Review: Kurt Vile @ The National — 5/11/24

I love Kurt Vile’s music because it’s chill and relaxes me whenever I need to take it down a notch or two. His hazy melodies and stream of consciousness lyrics keep me engaged and his overall slacker vibe appeals to my Gen X sensibilities. 

For some reason, Vile did not bring his Back to Moon Beach tour to DC, instead hitting the Ottobar in Baltimore back in March and ending the tour with a show last weekend at The National in Richmond. It seemed like a great excuse for a weekend roadtrip.

Vile’s live show, however, is a different animal from his recorded output, featuring more of a front-foot energy and all sorts of good chaos, as seen at The National in Richmond, Virginia, on May 11. Sure, he plays a few chill tunes. “Blackberry Song” from 2009’s Childish Prodigy might have been the highlight of the night, just KV pickin’ on his acoustic and vibin’ out. “Beach on the Moon” and “Another Good Year for the Roses” also fall into this category.

Watch the official music video for “Another Good Year for the Roses” by Kurt Vile on YouTube:

Then you have his more straight ahead rock material like “Wakin on a Pretty Day,” “Hey Like A Child” and “Pretty Pimpin’.” Lastly are the best bits, where Vile gets a bit unhinged and lets it fly, like on this night when he turned “Check Baby” into a pseudo-metal song with yelps and screams that got the crowd out of their seats and providing their own back up vocals.

My first time seeing Vile was back in 2009 at the Black Cat backstage (RIP). Much of visual presentation has remaiuned unchanged since then. He’s centerstage, a tall, lanky mass of curly hair, head down with his face hidden. But his music has graduated from drone-folk into, truly, a constant hitmaker.

Setlist:
Jesus Fever
Hey Like a Child
Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone)
Back to Moon Beach
Blackberry Song
How Lucky (John Prine cover)
Goin on a Plane Today
Another good year for the roses
Wakin on a Pretty Day
Pretty Pimpin
Dust Bunnies
Check Baby

Wages of Sin
I’m an Outlaw
Loading Zones
Like Exploding Stones

Here are some photos of Kurt Vile performing at The National in Richmond, Virginia, on May 11, 2024. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Kyle Gustafson.