Okkervil River and Elvis Perkins share their souls. - Oh My Rockness

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Okkervil River and Elvis Perkins share their souls.

October 4, 2006
There's a wonderful kind of sadness brought to you by the two artists playing Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, October 14th. Both the headliner, Okkervil River, and the stellar (and still-unsigned) artist, Elvis Perkins, play music that lends itself to sorrow. In their own way, they sing out their grim tales of pain and heartbreak, yet also intersperse just enough instrumental pep to keep you from going to that dark place of no return.

Headlining is the popular Okkervil River, who over the past eight years of their existence have been compared to Neutral Milk Hotel, Will Oldham, Bright Eyes and even Johnny Cash. Singer/songwriter/leader Will Robinson Sheff composes poignant stories culled from the history of his wounded heart. These avant-folk tales of hurt are made for people who are ok with being down every now and then. While primarily relying on his acoustic guitar to ease his ache, Sheff also incorporates banjos, pedal steels, fiddles, horns and a Wurlitzer. It takes many instruments to sing out the words from this guy's diary. Sheff's earnest, introspective lyrics often deal with the dark and dysfunctional, yet the complex, ambitiously orchestrated arrangements are too beautiful to simply dismiss this band as a downer. They're an upper-downer.

Opening up is Providence's Elvis Perkins, who is fresh off a tour with Cold War Kids and Dr. Dog. Word on the street is that his opening set stole the show. Like Sheff, Perkins writes the world-weary songs of a troubadour who's seen some things. He has been compared to John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats meets the soaring falsetto of the late Jeff Buckley. Perkins certainly knows the sorrow of which he sings. His famous acting father, Anthony, died of AIDS in 1992, and his renowned photographer/actress mother, Berry Berenson, died aboard one of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers. His distress pours forth in the form of gentle guitars, melancholic string sections, lonely harmonica notes, and a trembling tenor. But like Okkerivil River, he does have optimism in his arsenal too, as his music can just as often lift the spirit up.

Sorrow may be Okkervil River and Elvis Perkins' bread-and-butter, but you don't need to be a sad sack to enjoy this show. There's delight to be found in watching these two talented artists sing out their beautifully heartbreaking songs.

Okkervil River and Elvis Perkins play Schubas on Saturday, October 7th and Sunday, October 8th.


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