Okkervil River- The Academy Nov 08

November 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.



  1. Absolutely agree with review – love Okkervil River but was disappointed with gig. The tiny stage seems to be squashed in the corner, and in no way the focus point of the dingy low-ceilling room. I started off near the front but static from the speakers meant it was impossible to make out the lyrics. Then i moved back near the bar, where the loud chat and noise was incredible, worst I’ve ever encountered at a gig, especially during “a stone”.

  2. Absolutely agree with review and the first comment. It was my second time I’m coming to The Academy for gig. Both times sound was terrible, despite the fact that previous concert (Dinosaur JR. in may this year) were upstairs. This time I was disappointing with the venue, with sound and with people who chat like they are in some pub in Temple bar. But, nevertheless, I enjoyed listening my favorite rock band….

  3. does someone have a friday’s lineup?

  4. Thanks guys- nice to know it wasn’t just me!
    Don’t have the lineup and haven’t seen it around- most people seemed to be at Fleet Foxes but there is another review over at Thrill Pier so he might have an idea.

  5. I saw Okkervil River at ATP in the spring, and though I’m not crazy about their recorded stuff, they’re an amazingly tight, powerful, fun live band. When I arrived in the Academy (late – about 9.10), I was tempted to split straight away. That 80s vibe: can’t hear the music, can’t see the band. In the end I warmed to it, watched the band in the mirror over the bar (!) and enjoyed how much the crowd got into it.

    But I hold MCD responsible. Just don’t seem to give a damn about the quality of their live shows – and those tight schedules definitely come from the promoters. I honestly thing Okkervil River will be really big some day – and MCD just treated them like indifferent indie shit.

  6. Hey Carol- interesting way to see a gig!
    Agree with you on MCD- while every promoter is there to make some money some of the smaller ones like Foggy Notions and uMack know how to treat their artists. MCD seem to be in a get-em-in-get-em-out model for both the band and the fans and couldn’t care less as long as they are left holding the cash.

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