I can never quite figure out whether I love Okkervil River or just like Okkervil River. I always think the Austin, Texas, indie rock band’s albums are great on first listen, but after a year or so, there are usually only three or so tracks that I ever feel like revisiting on a regular basis.
After the show Wednesday night at the Fox Theater in Oakland, I’m leaning a bit more to the love side of the equation. Will Sheff & Co. put on an energetic headlining show and did a great job of hitting each of those three tracks per album that I’m wild about. If only they’d played “Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas,” I might be entirely smitten.
- Opening act Julianna Barwick struck me as an odd choice. The New York sound collage artist created mesmerizing, etherial tapestries of looping melodies using just her voice and a collection of keys, pedals and knobs, but the effect of having the boozy, folk-influenced punk of Titus Andronicus follow her was a bit like Enya opening for The Pogues.
- Titus Andronicus singer/songwriter (although, perhaps “yowler/songwriter” is a more apt description) Patrick Stickles referring to the Okkervil River diehards as River Rats. “I coined that yesterday,” he said. “You can use that.”
- Like any good New Jerseyan, Stickles wanted updates on the score of the A’s-Mets game, but he evidently didn’t hear the guy shouting “2-2” from the mezzanine. “Anybody?” Stickles said. “I guess we’ll worry about that later. Whatever. There aren’t any jocks here.”
- Stickles evidently bought the guitar he was playing at a nearby pawn shop for $150 after he broke a string on his usual ax. (He didn’t explain why a broken string required an entire new guitar.)
- If you want to play in Okkervil River, it evidently helps if you can play guitar, keyboard, trumpet, trombone, fiddle AND jingle bells.
- “Did you see me try to do the Tom Petty kick?” Sheff asked the crowd, explaining that there was a photo downstairs of the rock legend with his leg over his head. “He’s like in his 60s or early 80s, … and I couldn’t do that when I was 18.”
And here is photographic evidence of the evening:
Or in gallery format if you prefer: