Okkervil River

I went to see Okkervil River at our downtown theater a week ago (I don’t usually see this many shows, Okkervil River and Feist are the only two I’ve seen in maybe 2 months?). I got there sort of early and met Ed in front — turned out the opening band Howlin’ Rain (I get the impression they are a faithfully retro 70s band concept?) were delayed so they’d roped in a local band to play while waiting… whose name is escaping me at the moment. We are both grouchy aging indie-rockers with limited patience so we went next door to have a beer and watch one of the NCAA final four games, what was it, Memphis vs…? Got back after Howlin’ Rain (sorry boys). Okkervil River were fun. I’d liked but never listened all that much to ‘Black Sheep Boy’ which I’d pegged as a bit earnest, so I was impressed by Will Sheff’s showmanship/ theatricality. He bounced around, flipped his floppy mane, flirted with the audience, emoted a lot.

He’s a smart guy, really good lyrics and ideas about celebrity, art, and related topics. “Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe” is the best maybe?

“It’s just a life story, so there’s no climax.
No more new territory, so pull away the imax.
In the slot that you sliced through the scene there was no shyness.
In the plot that you passed through your teeth there was no pity.
No fade in: film begins on a kid in the big city.
And no cut to a costly parade (that’s for him only!).
No dissolve to a sliver of grey (that’s his new lady!)
where she glows just like grain on the flickering pane of some great movie.

From the speakers your fake masterpiece is serenely dribbling.
When the air around your chair fills with heat, that’s the flames licking
beneath the clock on the clean mantelpiece. It’s got a calm clicking,
like a pro at his editing suite takes two weeks stitching up some bad movie.”

Makes me think of Destroyer’s “The Bad Arts” — both songs partly about the feeling, endemic to indie rock, of being belated and minor, insufficient, aspiring to great art but just producing fake masterpieces in some phony canon.

1 thought on “Okkervil River”

  1. Dude, I am glad you are finally acknowledging the allure of OR. I guess my subtle plan of ceasing to recommend them to you had its desired effect. I still think you are a goof for not getting into them while you were living in Austin, though. I guess it’s that Austin effect: the fact that you can’t go grocery shopping without having some local band playing a gig at the grocery store kind of erodes the value of live music, so you have to move away before you can get up the energy to go and see an Austin band at a club. I knew OR were going to break out though, well before The Stage Names, because they were one of the only bands I play that my wife actually asked me to make a tape of for our car (when BSB came out–the last previous such request being Belle & Sebastian).

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