Los Angeles was still reeling from an atrocious heat wave, thus “hot” was the operative word last night (Sept. 4) as Okkervil River took the stage in front of a sold-out Troubadour crowd. But that didn’t sap the energy of the band, nattily dressed in suits, from delivering a sweat-drenched, raucous alt-country set. Western Keys frontman Ben Dickey (who also happens to be Okkervil River’s manager), and Seattle tunesmith Damien Jurado opened the show. Jurado, road testing material for the new album, pulled out old gem “Ohio,” while closing his performance with a haunting rendition of Low’s “Murderer.”
As the heat drenched the revered L.A. venue walls, Okkervil River delivered select tunes from both 2005’s Black Sheep Boy and their latest LP, The Stage Names.Vocalist/guitarist Will Sheff, who discarded his jacket his four songs in, roared through “The Latest Toughs,” ultimately tearing his mic off the stand and jumping around in time to his earnest guitar work. Eventually his long sleeves would go up and, finally, the dress shirt was removed upon the band’s return for an encore — upbeat numbers such as “For Real” and “Unless it Kicks,” were surefire crowd pleasers, once more ramping up the hot frenzy to feverish heights. Lucky for fans, the band’s searing passion was exactly what they needed to quench searing temperatures outside.
We asked: The new Okkervil River LP is entitled The Stage Names. If you were a famous performer, what would your stage name be?