Okkervil River- The Academy Nov 08November 8, 2008
A strange week for gigs- of the two this week there has been one with the best vibe in a long while and one with the worst. Unfortunately for Okkervil River they were the one with the bad vibe- not really their fault but thats the way it was.
It was the first time I was in The Academy and the ground floor room has got to be the worst venue I have been to in a while- low ceilings, support poles, wires hanging out and an air duct right in front of the stage. Actually had a look at their website afterwards and it is billed as being for electronic artists and djs- maybe ok for that for that but with a five piece band and their instruments forced onto a tiny stage it was pretty bad.
When I first came into the room I actually double checked with the security guard to make sure I had the correct one…and since he had a thick eastern European accent I didn’t quite trust his answer and asked another gig goer who seemed just as surprised and uncertain. As well, I only got there about half 8 and either the support was over or there was none- I did see MayKay so not sure if the FLApes were on beforehand.
Okkervil River came on just after 9 and some of the first comments were about the tiny stage and the fact that there was a tight curfew so they were just going to plough ahead. Will, the lead, seemed to be annoyed and I wouldn’t have blamed him…unfortunately though they seemed to be just throwing out their tunes just to get through the set and be done with it. The crowd was not helping either since this is the loudest chatter I have heard in a good while. For one of the quieter tunes Will actually asked for silence at the back of the bar which only lasted for a few moments of course. So needless to say, the vibe was non-existent and a few people actually left…with the coat room in the same room it was fairly obvious.
The tide did turn about two thirds in with some of their stronger new tunes alongside some of their older ones and the crowd finally seemed to be with them. I don’t know their back catalogue too well since I had only come across them about 8 months ago on a blog by Mia but the band were getting into it at that stage which certainly helped with the vibe. Only one encore and to be honest I was surprised given all of the above- at least the air duct came in handy since Will was banging on it with his hand for extra percussion!
I would like to see Okkervil River again at a much better venue- after their experience here I don’t think they will be in any rush back to Dublin though. I certainly think they would have had a much better performance if they had a bit of space and weren’t being hassled over time. I will certainly not be in a rush to go to The Academy again and will actually have to think twice about seeing another group there no matter how much I like them.