A Violator Shows Me Who’s the Boss – Review of J Mascis and Kurt Vile and the Violators at The Brighton Music Hall
J Mascis / Kurt Vile and the Violators
Brighton Music Hall, Allston, 03/26/11
This was my birthday show. It was to be a soaring celebration of drink, dance, friends, and rock and roll. The defiant Boston winter had been showing signs of begrudged retreat – while Spring seemed poised to pounce at any moment. This all took a drastic turn after my accident, and instead of bouncing into Brighton Music Hall surrounded by Merry Pranksters, I hobbled through the door with sullen eyes, a bum knee, and a worried wife.
I tore my ACL playing basketball the week before, and much like the bastard weather outside, my general output on things had turned ice cold. No longer did I see a Spring full of possibilities – and instead of mourning the passing of another year, it was my ability to walk that I was raising my ‘Gansetts to.
This is where the magic of music once again waltzed into my life. Every time I near a new low, I’m urged out of the darkness by the power of sound. Earlier in the month I watched Kurt Vile play a solo in-store performance at Newbury Comics, and while it was excellent, I yearned for more from the set. I missed hearing the raw power of Vile’s band, the Violators, and on a night where I needed a strong dose of rock, the Violators delivered with 1200mg of pain relief. “Hunchback” was an appropriate opening song, for I stood there in the crowd middle center leaning on crutches, with a hunched back of my own – when I suddenly found myself happy for the first time in quite awhile. Quasimoto with his Narragansett. Who woulda’ thought?
Kurt Vile and the Violators slogged though a loud and heavy set – playing their best while getting lost in hazy eyed musical tangents, jamming together to a drone. Right after their set ended I retreated to the back of the club needing to rest my knee, and took residence at the bar next to the merch table. This is where we hung out with Mike Zanghi, the drummer for the Violators (as well as the War on Drugs). I saw him walking by and thanked him for the incredible set, and half an hour later we were still chatting it up.
He told stories of SXSW where some heartless coward stole a bag of irreplaceable equipment that’s not allowing them to play certain songs. He also mentioned how their tour van completely broke down, and they were now in the grips of an unreliable rental – but regardless of it all, he had a smile the whole time while talking with me, and you could tell as a whole, this band was riding the crest of some sort of high wave. These misfortunes were all just water off of a ducks back so to speak.
I enjoyed the J Mascis set for sure, but I was only there because of Kurt Vile and the Violators, and the personal nature of their albums bleed over into the whole experience. And while I realized they’ve been bombasted at every corner by the luck of life – they were still pushing through their minor adversity with an envious rapture – one which I’ll be immitating over these next nine months, as I melt the ice, and show my knee who’s the boss.