Took the S-Bahn over to the Szene last night for a concert by Okkervil River. This group were a new name to me, I only looked them up when doing research for the column and immediately liked what I heard. Live, they didn’t disappoint. A six-man line-up (I’m a sucker for big bands; I love the hugeness of the sound they produce – cf. Jaga Jazzist, what happened to them?), with cornet, lap steel and accordion filling out the orchestration. Will Sheff was an arresting and formidable frontman, passionate and aggressive but with a strong undercurrent of melancholy which came well to the fore in the acoustic songs. I hate lazy comparisons but there were echoes of Tindersticks in the stylishness of the instrumentation, and of the Bad Seeds in the energy and conviction with which the songs were delivered.
All in all, a sparkling show, received rapturously by the usual attentive and appreciative Szene audience. Except, that is, for the two girls close to me who talked to each other throughout the entire concert. I’m still wondering what they could find to talk about at such length, and why they thought the middle of a concert hall was an appropriate place to do it.