Kurt Vile left his Violators behind to play an acoustic show at Café de la Danse in front of Yannick Slade-Cafferel
Le Café de la Danse should be a cool venue. It is in a lane behind the exchange student filled Rue de Lappe that even the drunkest Australian would avoid for fear of being stabbed. However, this location is deceiving. Café de la Danse is much like the morning after a bad one-night stand. Not knowing what to say or what to do, one sits in silence until they are told to leave. It oozes awkward. Bleachers angle down towards a thin carpet covered floor that hits a low stage. Everybody sits, even on the floor, and, like in the reptile section of the zoo, stares silently at the musician before them. That kind of sterile environment kills live music.
Kurt Vile was supported by an old-looking bloke named Pall Jenkins of The Black Heart Procession. He played a pretty good brand of blues/soul. His songs consisted of various loops and he succeeded at making this repetition work. One of the loops sounded like “House of the Rising Sun”. For the majority of each song then he was able to devote himself to playing the saw. For those who don’t know, saws are played with a bow and make high pitch tones like an acoustic Theremin. He played seated with, to his left, an old television set showing static.
The television continued to sparkle black and white and welcomed Kurt Vile. He played alone and was also seated. His impressive locks almost touched the ground. To give credit where it is due, the sound engineer did a fantastic job on the acoustic guitar sound. Kurt Vile alternated between three different acoustic guitars and a banjo. He played through soft acoustic renditions of the songs off “Walkin on a Pretty Daze”. They were beautiful and he played perfectly. This was lucky as any mistake would have been deadly in the silence that reigned. When the songs stopped, everybody clapped furiously before returning to their extraordinary silence.
As he played, Kurt Vile’s eyes would move to look towards the back of his head. Members of the audience whispered questions about potential levels of intoxication. If he was pissed, it didn’t show in his performance. He played, each song was much the same, and it was all very relaxing. He performed an encore although it was hard to tell. Each song was like the first, perpetually warming up. When he had truly finished, he put his guitar down and picked up his banjo. The crowd made noise in the hope that this meant one more song. Kurt Vile shook his head and walked of stage carrying his instrument. He left his guitars behind with the television’s static still flashing.