The Horseshoe Tavern is sold out for this mid-June exploration of Okkervil River, the first and only Canadian stop of the band’s tour.
The snug, historical Torontonian venue is the perfect location for the performance, a skilfully executed concert delivering an hour and a half of upbeat, kindly engaging music. A smart setlist, mixing new and old with harmony, allows Okkervil River to build an immediate connection with the few hundred listening souls present at the scene.
The lineup includes the frontman Will Sheff, bass Benjamin Lazar Davis, keyboard Sarah Pedinotti and drummer Cully Symington. Members of the witty, instrumental opening band Star Rover, Will Graefe and Jeremy Gustin complete the formation respectively at the guitar and at the percussion-second-drums: yes, Okkervil River double up in rhythm, pumping up the audience in a musical progression and quality act.
Pulled Up the Ribbon introduces with its solid riff ‘In the Rainbow Rain‘, album released on April 27th. Six of the sixteen songs played during the concert are part of the band’s last work. Among those,The Dream and the Light steps up powerful, thanks to its melodic virtousism.
Down Down the Deep River gives the audience its first past-blast, immediately followed by the reflective hiatus of Famous Tracheotomies and its peculiar writing idea. The Velocity of Saul at the Time of His Conversion is an acoustic gem and gives the double drums and keyboard a little break.
Then comes the concert’s crescendo, which finds its peak in Black and Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe. Two solid final steps, perfect to stir up the crowd towards a shouting call-back and to set a prequel to the encore, which is definitely a winner.
The duet by Sheff and Pedinotti in Lost Coastlines is daydreaming and one of the best self-covers ever, whereas the refrain of Unless It’s Kicks is a tangible way of providing free and durable company to most of the audience for the way back home.