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Vetiver at the Troubadour on Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It’s certainly not a hazard if Vetiver performed a Gene Clark’s song at the Troubadour on Wednesday night, this is where Roger McGuinn was approached by Gene Clark in 1964, an encounter which was at the origin of what would become the Byrds. Andy Cabic was well aware of the significance to play in such a location, a rare and admirable thing for a musician of his age, making more than one allusion about his respect for the history of the place, ‘In my 70s-obsessed mind, I think about what happened in these bathrooms!’

Gene Clark’s ‘Here Tonight’ was the 4th song the band performed and it was perfectly fitting with their own repertoire and with the mood of the evening, especially because of the line ‘Cause I don't want to be anywhere but right here tonight’…

Vetiver’s music is at the same time easy and hard to describe, since you could say they play this sweet folk-pop indie music, but then, what would you have accomplished? It is more than this, more elaborated, layered, diversified and mysterious. Sure they have found their inspiration in folk music but they seem to have invented their own folkloric branch with peculiar rhythms, soft vocal harmonies and grooves that don’t really belong to the folk scene. Like their opening song ‘Strickly rule’ from their 2009 album ‘Tight Knit’, with its repetitive line, digging a deep groove right away with Sarah Versprille’s wobbling keyboard, making the atmosphere all psychedelic.

But Vetiver’s body of work is surprisingly diverse, and you could actually say that they have many kinds of songs as they were mostly browsing tunes from their last album ‘The Errant Charm’, and from their previous one ‘Tight Knit’. There were the sweet folky ones, gently paced, whose melodies were slowly blooming, like ‘Right away’ which had almost a Jackson Browne’s hook, ‘Wonder why’, delicately mixing the old with the new, ‘Everyday’, a happy-walk-in-the-sun type of song, light and carefree, but still making these little sighs, or ‘Rolling Sea’, a very sweet Banhart-esque one with some country accents. But there were also the psychedelic bluesy ones, like ’You may be blue’, expanding and jamming, galloping like a horse, and also the unclassifiable ones, like ‘It’s beyond me’ a floating, melancholic melody which opens their last album, or ‘More of this’, with its infectious rhythm and Eels-like riffs.

The crowd at the Troubadour seemed very young, and hardly reacted when Cabic said he dedicated the song ‘Another reason to go’ (which starts with the line ‘No good job/No good town/No roots planting you down’) to the Dow Jones, which ‘needs a little help’.

The band has toured extensively, opening and collaborating with Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom in the past, and I could hear some Devendra’s influence (or is it the opposite?) in the delicate tunes of Cabic, who has even co-written songs with Banhart and produced his album ‘Cripple Crow’. And if many of the tunes started as if something bigger was going to happen, they were all staying on the gentle side, even tough there was a sort of buoyant circus-ambiance on some of them, a sort of freakish but joyous nostalgia of something half-imagined, half-anchored in the past.

Setlist
Strictly rule
Hard to break
Right away
Here tonight (Gene Clark cover)
Sister
Pay no mind
Everyday
You May be blue
Another reason to go k
Rolling sea
It’s beyond me
Can’t you tell
Wonder why

Encore
Street
Wishing well
More of this

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