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Review Thu Apr 24 2008

Review: Okkervil River, New Pornographers @ The Riveria

The Riveria played host this past Sunday to two of indie's biggest powerhouses, The New Pornographers and Okkervil River, in an obviously greatly-approved of sold-out performance.

okkervilriver.png

Okkervil River delivered one of the most powerful live performances I have seen in awhile. Drunk, emotional, and intensely expressive, Will Sheff and the rest of Okkervil thrust out the hits from their dynamically popular 2007 album, The Stage Names, not missing any fan favorites, and possibly creating a few new ones with selections off Black Sheep Boy. Plagued by "technical difficulties" which were most likely just roadies too stoned to operate the sound board, Sheff's growing anger at the situation was conveniently and miraculously expressed through every next guitar strum and belted note. "A Stone" received a new lyric as he decided instead at that moment to sing of the "annoying feedback tone", much to the delight of the audience suffering through the same grueling dissonance. The music blew fans away, with so much force being put behind each line and note, you were inescapably wrapped up in the honesty and emotion behind the songs. As the climatic end to a frustrating night, he hurled his mic to the side of the stage in a last ditched effort to possibly kill one of the sound guys with their own mic they don't know how to use properly.

Why some of the most dominant and musically respected bands of the time were given rookies to control their technical sound, I don't know, but it greatly affected both sets and I can't help but guess that it greatly affected these bands' thoughts on the Riv as well. The New Pornographers' Carl Newman sang the entire set into a broken mic projecting his vocals at an awkward frequency. (Good thing the crew was nice enough to not replace the mic that had been chucked at them minutes ago.) Various instruments wailed in and out as the techs struggled hopelessly with the levels in an effort to fix the ever worsening sound. The painfully bulldozing opening guitar chords of "All The Old Showstoppers" (or "Showstoppers Redux" as Newmann called it in response to the unexpected boom) was soon forgotten for the screeching keyboards by the end. It was obvious their in-ear sound was also affected, with the occasional wrong note being sung through. And of course, the irking tone of ever-present feedback dominated.

Fans nervously expected a less than dynamic show in the first place. With favored vocalist Dan Bejar touring with his other band, Destroyer, and the beloved Neko Case leaving the tour only days before with a foot injury, the rest of the Pornos put on a modest show for what they were. Such is the life of a supergroup, I suppose. If the rest of the set was perfect, you may have not even noticed they were gone, but the sound tribulations only made the missing aspects more conspicuous. The show that did go on was very good, giving the audience a chance to hear some songs not usually played. Usually considered that "other" female vocalist that is not Neko Case, Kathryn Calder really shone in her covering of Neko's vocal parts, delivering a particularly powerful version of "Challengers". Okkervil River's Will Sheff also joined them for what became a drastically different but intriguing rendition of "Myriad Harbour". It was unfortunate that so many things out of the band's control could affect the set so greatly, but what was given was delivered with great strength.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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