Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Discovery of the Year

I suppose it’s strange to say that a band who had an album in your Top 5 last year is a discovery. Yet my fandom kicked up to a higher level this year after it had come full circle. Allow me to explain. At the 2006 Austin City Limits Music Festival I got my first exposure to Okkervil River. In the 100 degree heat at Zilker Park my friend Stacy said, “We should stop and watch some of Okkervil River.” Even though I was wilting, I agreed. The second song we saw them do was “The President's Dead.” I was immediately hooked by this tale about how a simple and beautiful day in someone's life become memorable because of an assassination of a world leader. I found the song online once I got back to New York and it started me on my path to Okkervil River fandom. Flash forward two years—I saw Okkervill River twice in the space of nine days, the first at ACL and the second time at Webster Hall here in New York. Frontman Will Sheff opened this show up with a song that used “The President's Dead” music, but with some decidedly darker lyrics: "The President's alive. I see his face on FOX 5. My friends I feel so terrified.” However, “The President's Alive” isn't about our current ineffective leader. The lyrics go on to mention “The Vice standing by” with “just one tear in her eye.” To open up a show with this song, on the night of second presidential debate, well, damn, it was pretty powerful.

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