Bonnaroo Preview: Okkervil River

Bonnaroo has done Okkervil River no favors.

The Austin-based band will perform at the festival’s geographically-challenged Other Tent on Sunday afternoon, when exhausted fans will be doing more hunkering than walking. Other bands have fallen victim to the sinister stage and schedule spot – even an increasingly rare stateside Broken Social Scene performance couldn’t lure the amount of people it deserved in 2008, and the stage has seen one deserving artist after another play to relatively modest crowds over the years.

Okkervil RiverOkkervil River’s entire set takes place within the time frame of Andrew Bird’s Which Stage appearance, which will be a huge competing draw within the Okkervil fan base. Their bio page at the Bonnaroo website currently houses an overtly wordy and minimally revealing cut-and-paste job that won’t exactly enchant those who aren’t familar with the band. Portions of the text will no doubt wind up under their name in the festival program as well.

Good thing, then, that 2009 is turning out to be Okkervil River’s year to break through. Riding the acclaim and momentum of the September 2008 release of The Stand Ins, the band performed on The Late Show With David Letterman in January 2009. Having already performed at Coachella, they’ll make the most of their summer by playing Bonnaroo and touring the Western U.S. with Wilco for a week before heading to Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland.

Given their recent luck, the band’s Bonnaroo set should turn out to be just another leap forward for their popularity. Songwriter Will Sheff’s intelligent, poetic lyrics might be just perfect on a lazy Sunday, and the band’s multi-instrumental work will doubtlessly provide moments of jubilation, sorrow, drama, laughter, and everything in between.

Music lovers of all types will find something pleasing in Okkervil River’s indescribable sound, whether it be the music’s inherent lyrical verbosity, its moments of joyous guitar jangle, the constantly changing instrumental dynamics, or the wide range of moods that manifest during their shows. The band finds itself in an enviable position this year, and Bonnaroo is another colorful feather in their considerably conspicuous cap.

Links to learn about Okkervil River:

Official Website
Music, T-Shirts, and Limited Edition Posters
NPR page with live show download, photos, and interview, and more

“Lost Coastlines” Video


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