Kurt Vile Plays Toronto While Remaining the King of Laid Back, Flannel Rock

Kurt Vile and the Violators are psych-tinged country-fried rock personified. The very type that washes over you like a soothing, albeit heavy, wave.

At Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall, band leader, singer-songwriter Kurt Vile, lurched amid assorted guitar pedals, his long hair obscuring any discernible facial features while flannel flapped about.

The songs (long and jamming) spilled from his mouth, seemingly stream of consciousness. Or maybe they were endearingly half-finished? Either way, a broad range of his catalogue, songs stretching as far back as 2013’s Walkin on a Pretty Daze were dusted off. For newer fans, there was also ample material from 2022’s underrated Watch My Moves including Flyin (Like a Fast Train) and Mount Airy Hill (Way Gone).

Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile & the Violators in Toronto. Photo by Myles Herod

For the 90-minute set, a sense of humour always remained present. Accompanied by his group the Violators, the music also shined brighter because of it – equally inventive and un-obviously unhurried. By now, it’s easy to look past it, but Vile writes in a way that seems personal and interwoven into tales of daily life. Never preachy, often earnest, he knows his audience and plays to those strengths.

Almost embarrassed to be speaking to the packed house, there were no grand statements to be had, just music, which he let speak freely. Even at club scale, he somehow managed to emulate a stripped-down Springsteen with the spiky guitar moves akin to a Neil Young.

Those comparisons notwithstanding, Vile added his own quirky brand: a beating heart of wistfulness, worn on a frayed, plaid sleeve.


Myles Herod

Myles Herod

Traveller, image maker, pop-culture seeker, storyteller, a guy you want around when things go south. Tastes range from Kubrick to Krautrock, Wu-Tang to Wiseau. Currently resides in Toronto, Canada.
Myles Herod