CONCERT REVIEW: OKKERVIL RIVER AND SOMEONE ELSE. BUT REALLY, OKKERVIL RIVER
“I’m putting the kibosh on face planting,” Nick was standing in the lobby of the Riv, looking at his phone, texting the rest of the group—we got split up at the door, bags searched, security guards questioning—and so had to find a place to meet. I believe Nick’s phone may serve as both a text message interface and as a porthole to another dimension, and I have to say, I was impressed with his multitasking—texting and kiboshing all at once.
Now, I’m not a big fan of face planting—it’s painful and usually there’s blood and embarrassment and lame excuses like, “Well, who the hell would put a stair there?” However, despite the fact that I am not a fan of face planting, I am actually quite good at it. And while I had a moment after Nick’s comment when I considered saying, “But, Nick, is it not my obligation as an artist to pursue that which is my destiny?” I didn’t say that. Mostly because I suspected doing so would’ve caused The Nick Phone to zap me with a blinding light and transport me to another dimension, possibly some place without beer or bicycles, which would be hell.
Moreover and however, the main dish being served by the Riv’s stellar bar system was beer—both the imported and the piss-water kind. You can only get a proper face plant with gin and/or vodka, so my quest to become an Olympic-caliber face planter was not to be exercised this night. This worked in my favor as I am An Extremely Funny Human when beer is around and also, I can stay upright in its presence.
So we stood, upright, in the ballroom of the Riv, the posse of us, about eight of us, in our group, but about hundreds of us, as an audience, surrounded by high arched walls and crumbling paint. On stage: Okkervil River. They have two k’s in their name, which is not something you see everyday unless you’re a bookkeeper or you eat Krispy Kreme. Okkervil River wore ties. And jackets. And they were all hipstered out, except engaging and not pretentious and I decided I liked seeing them live, especially when Lead Singer Dude sang a line about the disturbing amount of feedback, but worked it so as not to smoosh in any extra syllables to an already packed song line and that was talentful of him.
And then they sang that stone song—“A Stone”? “The Stone”?—the one with the line, “You love a stone,” and no shit, with just his voice and a guitar Lead Singer Dude captivated the entire audience and he also marched right into my heart and smashed it around a bit, but in a good way, like reminding it that is was alive and if he had said after the last note of that song, “I’m going off to war now and you should come with me,” I would’ve. But Lead Singer Dude did not say this, he just let the song stay out there for a second and the whole place was quiet, for just that one second, and then I turned to Nick and said, “Holy shit.” Or maybe I said, “Holy fuck.” But what I meant was, “My heart is on fire.”
And then the New Pornographers played and they were fine.