Once, there were two boys, Rupert and Pedro, who set off on a grand adventure from Columbia, SC to Carrboro, NC to witness a live event unlike any other: Okkervil River. To accompany them on their ride, they brought a plethora of snacks and they quickly found out that they only had two packs of Fruit Gushers left. They decided to only open and consume these gushers during the climax of Okkervil River’s most epic song. Rupert had not eaten Fruit Gushers for about two years so this was going to be very difficult for him, to be able to contain himself from eating them before this…
We arrived in Carrboro with a few hours to spare before the show began so we visited our friend Rhett who is up here for an internship with Merge Records (they are the record label for Arcade Fire among many other bands). She lives right in the heart of town, which is a beautiful, interesting town with bike highways and burrito trucks. After eating we went into the venue early and saw some of Future Island’s soundcheck. They seemed very chill on stage and so we weren’t expecting what happened.
Sam Herring, the singer of Future Islands, told us that his spirit animal is a gorilla. I have never heard of a more perfect spirit animal, but I would have to say that on stage, his spirit animal is more like a gorilla on acid. His unique raspy voice combined with his “moves” on stage create something otherworldly. During the set, he stroked invisible mice and grasped things from the air that weren’t there, then proceeded to eat them. He banged on the floor, his head, and his chest all while performing songs that sounded like 80’s dance party with Dracula on vocals. It was terrific, and if you’re going to be attending Hopscotch in September they will be there and you have to go. Your mind will be blown into three different dimensions.
Next up, were Titus Andronicus a band hailing from New Jersey who were named one of the seven best new bands of 2010 by Rolling Stone. They definitely lived up to their name. They were all full of energy with a punk-y sound that got the crowd to get off their feet and go a little bit crazy. Patrick Sickles, the lead singer, told us that his spirit animal was an otter. The reason behind this is that his mom went to see a psychic and that’s what they told her when she showed him a picture of her son. The thing is, he told us, is that the psychic’s claim to fame was that they are a “gay psychic” and Sickles found out that in the gay community an otter means a man who is very skinny but has a lot of hair. But anyways, he definitely seemed like an otter on stage, having as much fun as possible and creating a lot of noise. It was a high-energy set that definitely inspired me to listen to their recorded stuff.
Finally, Okkervil River hit the stage. They had a 6-member band with each band member as talented as the other. The band took a few songs to get completely into the show, but once they felt the energy of the sold-out crowd they loosened up and completely destroyed every song that they did. There were a million highlights throughout the set including the slow, beautiful Black Sheep Boy and the hard-hitting opener from their newest album, The Valley. The most fantastic moment was during a song from Black Sheep Boy Appendix called No Key, No Plan. I had never heard this song before but it only involved two of the band members, singer Will Scheff and bassist Sam, who said his spirit animal was a black bear. They both had acoustic guitars and Scheff had a harmonica and they performed this slow song with mostly just their voices. At this point, me and Pedro knew that it was the time to eat our Fruit Gushers, so we took them out and enjoyed them more than we ever could have.
The set never stopped being amazing but it was definitely the crowd favorites Lost Coastlines and finale Unless Its Kicks that stood out. The whole crowd sung along, giving the whole show an intimate atmosphere that only Cat’s Cradle, the venue could provide. Every time I go to this venue, the band and the crowd are closer than any other venue I go to. It’s a mixture of the size, the closeness of the stage, and the sound. It’s an amazing venue and I wish that we had something like it in Columbia.
I managed to get 5 out of 6 spirit animals for Okkervil River. Lauren Gurgiolo, the guitarist (who created sounds that I have never heard come out a guitar before) is a beagle, keyboardist Justin Sherburn is Chico the chihuahua, and drummer Cully Symington is an accidentally coked-up sloth. Now I talked to singer Will Sheff about his spirit animal and he told me that he could not decide about his answer because he did not have enough experience with non-domesticated animals to figure out his spirit animal. He said he could possibly be an ant and he could possibly be a manta ray but he seemed like he just needed a lot of time to think about it. His answer was really interesting and thoughtful, and that is exactly how he is with his lyrics. His lyrics are powerful and you can tell that he puts a lot of thought into them.
To end the night, we watched the singer of Future Islands unsuccessfully attempt to juggle three oranges. If you are anywhere near Okkervil River when they are on this tour, it would definitely be a good idea for you to go. You can check out the dates at http://www.okkervilriver.com. I am going to be seeing Matt & Kim tonight at the same venue so check out my show journal for that probably on Monday!