After all of the back-to-back shows earlier this month, it was nice to have a week off to recuperate, or attempt to recuperate. But that week has passed, and last night we had Okkervil River at Terminal West, with the Brooklyn band Landlady opening.
We saw Landlady once before, during Hopscotch 2014 at a day party in Raleigh's Pour House. We liked them then and we liked them again last night, with their quirky, impossible-to-categorize music, their two drummer attack, and frontman Adam Schatz' sincere-but-not-too-serious stage presence.
About that enigmatic banner that hung over Schatz' keys - what was it that made the banner so compelling?
Look, I took a course in Subliminal Suggestion at Boston University's School of Public Communication (SPC) back in the '70s, and I know how these things work.
Once seen, it can never be unseen.
We entered SPC to major in cinema, our head full of Hitchcock, Wells and la nouvelle vague, but we quickly learned that we were in the wrong school - SPC promoted advertising, turning out probably the last generation of Mad Men, and journalism (this was in the years after Watergate, and Woodward and Bernstein were regarded as rock stars), although they favored television news over print journalism. As it turned out, directing, cinematography, and dramatic acting were all being taught over in the theater division of the School of Fine Arts, and I only lasted a few years in SPC, even though my classmates included Howard Stern and Geena Davis. I didn't matriculate to the School of Fine Arts, but instead somehow wound up a Geology major, but I took a few courses in Visual Communication at SPC, and to this day my eye for the visceral was probably honed in those few years at SPC.
Anyway, yadda, yadda, yadda - you didn't come here to hear about me. You want to know about last night's performances at Terminal West (old men like us tend to ramble in our senescence). As we were saying, Landlady are a great band, a fun band, and deserving of wider recognition. Check them out live if you get a chance, and/or support them by buying something off of their Bandcamp page.
But wait, there's more! (as they taught us to say at the SPC). After Landlady, Will Scheff and the current incarnation of his band Okkervil River took the stage and played a heartfelt, two-hour set. It was marvelous.
The former members of Okkervil River have largely moved on, touched by tragedy, dissolution, and adult responsibilities, as Scheff noted in Okkervil River RIP, last night's opening song (and the opener of his new album Away). The first portion of last night's show was largely a track-by-track performance of Away, with some older material working its way into the set list as the evening progressed.
For my fetishistic collection of Fotos of the Footwear of the Famous and Fashionable, here's Will Scheff's cowboy boots (they taught us to make liberal use of alliteration at SPC, too):
Last night's setlist:
It was a marathon set, far longer than the set list suggests, and the band even graced us with not one, but two encores. A lot of the new material is more somber than previous Okkervil River music, but Scheff's obvious love for the songs shined through the darker material, and he and the audience shared an emotional moment or two - or more - during the course of last night's set.
A good show, folks.