I am still, at age 31, a sucker for a good sweaty rock show and Okkervil River delivered just that on Saturday night in North Philly. Johnny Brenda's might just be the best rock venue in Philly, even though it sits on a corner in the mostly residential Fishtown neighborhood. It plays host to many of the best, and most relevant, "mid-level" bands touring these days. The Okkervil River show was our 2nd trip to JB's last week alone - we took in the excellent Bishop Allen show there on Monday night. Yeah, we're pretty rock-n-roll. Ha!
Jonathan of OR played a surprise solo set to open the show. He, along with his bandmates, typically goes by the name Shearwater - the once side project of he and Will Sheff of Okkervil River. Decent set, but his vocal style is better suited with Shearwater's beautiful music behind it - not just on it's own.
Seattle's own moody-folk guitar player and singer Damien Jurado was the scheduled opener on this tour and he delivered his patented sad, introspective storytelling tunes in fine form. He played numerous cuts from the near-decade old "Rehearsals for Departure" - the only Jurado disc we own - which was pretty darn cool as the lyrics came back to us in spite of the fact that we have not listened to that record in at least five years.
Okkervil River were terrific, as usual, and are poised for something great. Their latest effort "The Stage Names" is a near perfect collection of treatises on fame, fandom and the rock and roll life. It is a great follow up to the classic "Black Sheep Boy" and a record which keeps fans on their toes while not trying to go back to the BSB well, which any true music fan should appreciate.
OR played a good mix of tunes, touching each of their 4 full lengths and even a couple cuts from the BSB appendix. We arrived back at my parent's house, where the bear and mouse were sleeping, a touch passed 2 am. Wake-y time was a way too early 7am. We needed to get ready for The 2007 Buddy Walk and had a bit of a drive to Villanova for the event. More on that later...