On the second night of two sold-out shows, J Mascis and Kurt Vile and The Violators brought a solid set of masterful guitar rock to Music Hall of Williamsburg, March 25.
Kurt Vile opened with a set pulled heavily from his acclaimed album Smoke Ring For My Halo, just released on Matador Records. After three free acoustic record in-store performances earlier in March, his amplified set with The Violators was an energized, ideal surprise before J Mascis. Vile alternated between an amped acoustic with guitar loop and a couple electrics, including a flashy, sparkly red ax (see video of Jesus Fever). He said very little in between songs, except for stating, “You guys are so beautiful." Vile and his band closed with an exceptional cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Downtown Train, making it sound entirely like The Violators' own.
J. Mascis followed with an even more epic set filled with non-stop hits – some from his first solo studio album just released on Sub Pop titled Several Shades of Why (which Vile also plays on along with several other notable musicians) and a great handful of older Dinosaur Jr. era hits. Mascis also skipped the between song banter, save for a story about albums he heard recently that were “pretty terrible” yet pulled out a cover of Circle of Friends, a cover from one of said albums by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians.
Vile came back to join him on guitar for a couple songs, as well as a female flute player, whose additional flute tinker seemed rather unnecessary. Mascis refrained from basically any facial expression or emotional offering, instead staying focused on his insanely awesome guitar solos accompanied by a simple guitar loop, not even wavering when a front row fan blasted him in the face with a cloud of pot smoke.