The opening band on Friday night (04-22-11) at Bottom of The Hill were an unintentionally comedic, and slightly unsettling, hair metal outfit called RTX. Their over-zealous guitarist was playing a crocodile skin guitar, upside down. That's all I have to say about them.
Kurt Vile and The Violators are a shambolic mess of a band. Sometimes a beautiful mess, but mostly just a mess. More time was spent tuning guitars and discussing which song to play next than actually playing. At one point Kurt stated the obvious by muttering "I'm discombobulated" to the sold out crowd (including ever-present San Francisco gig goers Girls). When they sounded good they sounded great, particularly on Childish Prodigy opener, "Hunchback". "On Tour" was good, and the raging "Freak Train" was a stomping closer.
The Violators have no bassist, rather they have a lead guitarist who occasionally plays bass on his dropped bottom strings when not playing lead, which produces a totally unnecesary and unbalanced sound. No guitar band should be allowed to play without a bassist unless they are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or The White Stripes, especially when there are three rhythm guitarists churning through very similar chord patterns. Kurt is an amazing finger picking acoustic guitarist, but unfortunately he only played one song alone, the gorgeous "Peeping Tomboy", which rightfully got the biggest applause of the night. For the rest of the set the treble heavy three-pronged guitar attack drowned out Kurt's charming, low, vocal delivery.
I heavily recommend Kurt's new album Smoke Ring for My Halo, it is full of humble, beautiful melodies, ragged spidery guitar lines and Kurt's Iggy Pop like baritone voice. It's a roughly produced album that reveals more everytime you hear it, and it's still growing on me. However, when it comes to seeing his band live, maybe wait until they have gotten it together, or try and catch him on his own.
Thanks again to Chris for the photos. Here's the Official Video for Jesus Fever, featured on Smoke Ring For My Halo.