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Kurt Vile seduces with simplicity, precision at the Orpheum in Tampa



Philly singer-songwriter Kurt Vile played to a modest Orpheum crowd Wednesday night. He and his four-piece backing band, the Violators, mesmerized maybe a hundred adoring fans in Tampa.

He's a little bit Seattle grunge and a little bit Nashville. And that last part was delightfully on display in the night's second song, I'm an Outlaw, off 2015's b'lieve I'm goin down... the banjo jam that's only a taste of how good a guitar player the man is.

Switching guitars every song — from electric to acoustic, and even grabbing that aforementioned banjo — Vile mostly sampled each of his best-known LPs, goin down..., Wakin on a Pretty Daze and Smoke Ring For My Halo.

The 37-year-old guitarist makes perfection seem effortless. The balance between his lingering instrumentals and the intimate, conversational lyrics make each song seem new no matter how many times you play them. This makes for a fun live show that's dazzling, but comfortably familiar.

Just as seductive to watch as his music is to listen to, Vile is confidently awkward, bopping and swaying to each tune, and blinking his eyes to the beat. Not one to talk to the crowd, he's precise with every detail. It's almost frustrating how focused he is, staying on track with each song. No one would have complained if Wakin on a Pretty Day lasted a few minutes more. But he's already found the hypnotizing power in each tune. Goldtone, one of the night's longest songs, is already packed with nuance and maybe didn't need more instrumental discoveries.

Vile kept the energy going throughout the night, sprinkling in the guitar-heavy tunes between the slow-burners. He and band member Jesse Trbovich have great chemistry, and they have the most fun on Vile's wildest track Freak Train (off 2009's Childish Prodigy), where Trbovich gives us some hot sax(ophone). Accompanied with Vile's shrieks and hollers, it's the perfect song to close out the set before the encore.

But beyond Vile's amazing guitar skill, is his drawl, which shines on the acoustic tunes: It's hard not to get lost in That's Life tho (almost hate to say), especially when those blue stage lights melt into his frizzy curls (that moms everywhere are begging to get out of his face).

Later during the middle of the show, the band disappeared, and Vile serenaded us with Stand Inside, an informal, laid-back love song that didn't seem to calm down the crowd. (Yes, he's going to play Pretty Pimpin' so please stop yelling it. And it didn't disappoint.) Vile wasn't too distracted, only chuckling when he crooned "and kiss me."

For this tour, Vile brought Luke Roberts, a sleepy folk-rocker, who hasn't yet found any stage presence. However, Vile joined his opener for Roberts' last song Unspotted Clothes. Thankfully.

No surprises come with Kurt Vile, who proves consistency and precision are anything but boring. But only if you're paying attention.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 2, 2017 2:56am]


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