Andrew Vilko, Kind Folk, New Castle PA 9/4/15
My second show at the newly opened Kind Folk this year also marked the first electric show for the venue, with a full band for Ohio-based Andrew Vilko.
Andrew’s show on Friday 9/4 was a lot of things. It was messy when it needed to be. It was quiet, very occasionally. At times it seemed he and his guitar were both howling all at once. It was crowded, maybe the biggest crowd they’ve had at Kind Folk yet. This was only the second stop of Andrew’s tour and there was no opener, so he played nearly three sets with very little break and kept an upbeat folk energy alive all night.
“Time Honored Traditions”, Vilko’s second album, came out less than a month ago, with just enough time for the audience to get to know it and learn some words to sing along. For the most part the crowd all knew Vilko and were anticipating his arrival. Newer songs were met with open arms, in particular “Inside of You” and older songs from his first album and early demos were met with similar fervor. It wasn’t always a particularly interactive show, with the tunes rolling one into another but I think it was an implicit understanding that Vilko prefers to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak.
Most of the crowd stood up and swayed accordingly with the music, but were also mesmerized by Vilko’s trademark, his rambling lyricism, and sang along accordingly. He has a knack for fitting more lyrics in a verse than that verse is built for, and something about this approach makes his lyrical approach seem completely accidental but it works. It’s like the lyrics were written right there in that moment, and you’re hearing them for the first time. He pulls it off beautifully and the crowd almost has a hard time keeping up.
Something surprising about even a rockin’ folkie’s stage presence: he swapped instruments between almost every song, going from guitars to bass and accordian, even banjo at one point. It’s not important but seemed unusual for a folk-based musician. Maybe it’s because his music is so lethargic, and everything from the ballads to the more rockin’ numbers sounded almost drunk, or at least a little woozy. It’s undoubtedly their style, and I don’t mean for that to sound dismissive at all. It’s a style he’s fully comfortable in and makes no excuses for. The show is all at once loud, yet quiet and far away.
Andrew Vilko is a master of his craft. Catch him on tour if possible, through the witner.