The Austin Texas based Okkervil River returned to the 9:30 club last Monday night for a show that reveals why they remain, in my opinion, one of the best indie bands currently out there. As I approached the venue I saw a large crowd forming around the doors, waiting to be let in. The vibe amongst the crowd was one of nervous excitement, and I knew right off that bat that this would be a cool show. I entered the doors to see the stage being set up for Okkervil entrance, and what a set up it was. A huge tapestry of birds flying over a long, winding river was painted in bright pastels of orange and red. There were lamps on rustic furniture, and hung over the furniture was old school drapes. The instruments themselves were pieces of art and my personal favorite piece was the cello, which had a button up flannel over its entire body. This setup fit the crowd perfectly who sported a mixture of flannel, hats, and well groomed beards. I could not be more excited for the show to start.
As the lights began to dim, and Okkervil River took the stage, an expectant hush fell over the crowd. Okkervil River’s frontman Will Sheff began to sing a haunting heartfelt tune into the microphone which carried over the now silent venue. With well practiced precision the band began to play, and the loud raw folk song of small town America rang. I was continually amazed as the show progressed at the wide range of different sounds that made up each individual song. The sound of the music played went from giving off Grateful Dead vibes at one moment, to Fleet Foxes the next, before throwing me off with an almost electro pop sound.
Will Sheff at one point ushered the rest of the band off the stage, and sang a tune about the days he spent with his grandfather, who was in hospice care at the time. The raw emotion clearly carried through his voice, and words, to paint a vivid picture of a grief stricken young man and his inability to reconcile the death of a loved one. The band played a range of songs from their different albums and all the major hits that they are known for. My personal favorite song, “For Real” had me spinning in circles and the crowd jumping all over the place. Overall the show was exceptional and I urge anyone on the fence to see them the next time they come to a place nearby.