Kurt Vile

Scène de la Montagne, Montreal QC, July 30

Kurt VileScène de la Montagne, Montreal QC, July 30
Photo: Rick Clifford
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The beloved and critically acclaimed Kurt Vile and his backup band the Violators took to the Mountain stage at 4:45 p.m. sharp and launched into "Dust Bunnies" after a quick "hey" and a few string adjustments. Sending everyone on the festival grounds bobbing and swaying to his blend of hazy, magnetic folk-rock, Kurt and company moved through through their latest release b'lieve I'm goin down…with ease; tracks like "Pretty Pimpin'" and "I'm an Outlaw" blanketed the vast, main stage crowd in an afternoon glow.
 
Yet, despite his sheer adeptness with his ever-changing roster of guitars, it was clear that his voice was, well, off. Launching into "Jesus Fever" and then "Goldtone," the deep, introspective pitch of the songs were raised, his voice was reluctant to delve below the natural baritone of the recordings. And while folk rock, especially when played live, should never be expected to sound exactly like it does on the record, the result was nonetheless off-putting.

Ending his set with "Freak Train" — where bandmate Jesse Trbovich switched from guitar to saxophone — Kurt Vile and the Violators delivered a good, classic performance, but that won't be remembered as the best of the festival.

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