June 15: Okkervil River & Titus Andronicus

Damn this frail body. Damn this mortality. I used to be bulletproof. Now I feel like a bullet magnet. In the process of last night's phenomenal Okkervil River and Titus Andronicus show, I noticed that my lightly bruised shin/ankle (result of a soccer collision) was swelling up like a gourmand locked overnight in a bakery. No big deal, except that Gas Lantern Media's own Kellen O'Brien was boarding Titus for the night. And I had every intention of chatting it up with the band. And had my ankle not started murdering me like I was a post-coital teen at Camp Crystal Lake, I would have. Spilt milk, I suppose. But it makes me wonder why I can't have nice things...

Enough of my bitching. The show, one that filled the Bluebird to delightful capacity, was exceptional in every way. I heard, second hand, that the very opening act, Julianna Barwick, was less than spectacular, but I can't speak to that because we arrived only just in time to see Titus take the stage. So remember, that was second-hand commentary... from a reliable source.

Titus played their set, a relatively short one, with expert energy and unparalleled vigor. There were moments when the audience was so tuned into them, in that entranced, hypnosis way, that I couldn't believe they hadn't been the headliner. Throughout the set, there was a playful air, the energy throwing itself around the stage like a rag doll, blasting us with perfect walls of grinding guitar and pummeling drums. On their final song, Titus turned to a quiet place, opening with delicately sung vocals and a single electric violin. It was a beautiful and peaceful space, that they thrashed into rock oblivion with an undeniably excellent build. They played an amazing set and left the crowd wondering, at least for a moment, if they had just seen the best the night would offer. And I found myself harboring a fan-boy crush on the girl with the violin and a guitar wrapped around on her back, Amy Klein.

Okkervil River arrived about 30 minutes later. Will Sheff and Co. opened with a string of the pop-power fun tracks from the new album, I Am Very Far. At first, I wasn't sure if they were the band I remembered from The Stage Names. This group before me was some kind of noisy, angry and powerful entity quite different from the quiet, contemplative, reserved poets whose music I had first fallen for. About halfway through their set, they play "A Girl In Port" and it's amazing. Then they play "John Allyn Smith Sails" and it's staggeringly phenomenal. And when Okkervil closes the show, on the very expected and desired "Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe" the place explodes with fan-fueled ferocity. They destroy the Bluebird with that song. It is the best version I've ever seen that instantly re-invigorates my love of their music. And I start to wonder how anyone writes anything so great. It's a beautiful moment at a beautiful show. Ankle be damned.


  1. To amplify your crush, she is currently reading David Foster Wallace.

  2. Yeah, this crush now goes to eleven.