Bootleg Theater Presents
An Intimate Evening with Okkervil River
Bird Of Youth
2220 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90057
This event is 18 and over
The new Okkervil River album is called Away. I didn't plan to make it and initially wasn't sure if it was going to be an Okkervil River album or if I'd ever put it out. I wrote the songs during a confusing time of transition in my personal and professional life and recorded them quickly with a brand new group of musicians. I got together the best New York players I could think of, people whose playing and personalities I was fans of and who came more out of a jazz or avant garde background, and we cut the songs live in one or two takes – trying to keep things as natural and immediate as possible – over three days in a studio on Long Island that hosts the Neve 8068 console which recorded Steely Dan's Aja and John Lennon's Double Fantasy. I asked Marissa Nadler to sing on it and got the composer Nathan Thatcher to write some beautiful or- chestral arrangements, we recorded them with the classical ensemble yMusic and then I mixed the record with Jonathan Wilson out in Los Angeles.
2013-2015 had been a strange time for me. I lost some connections in a music industry that was visibly falling apart. Some members of the Okkervil River backing band left, moving on to family life or to their own projects. I spent a good deal of time sitting in hospice with my grandfather, who was my idol, while he died. I felt like I didn't know where I belonged. When there was trouble at home, a friend offered me her empty house in the Catskills where I could go and clear my head. New songs were coming fast up there, so I set myself the challenge of trying to write as many as possible as quickly as possible. I wasn't think about any kind of end product; the idea was just to write through what I was feeling, quickly and directly. Eventually, I realized I was writ- ing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new.
"Okkervil River R.I.P." and "Call Yourself Renee" are good emotional transcriptions of that time. I wrote the latter on psylocibin mushrooms on a beautiful afternoon in early fall in the Catskills. I wrote "The Industry" quickly after getting some bad news. "Comes Indiana Through the Smoke" is an anthem for the battleship my grandfather served on during the Pacific Theater of World War II. Before becoming a private
school Headmaster, my grandfather was also a jazz musician; he paid his way through college as a bandleader, toured with Les Brown and His Band of Renown, and spent summers playing a residency at a NH lakeside gay dance club called The Jungle Room that kept live monkeys in the basement. (You can hear his actual trumpet on this song, played by C.J. Camarieri from yMusic.) "Judey on a Street" is a love song, sunny but written late at night when the woods are maximum spooky. We cut "She Would Look for Me" pretty shapelessly, with a lot of improvisation, and it's also a love song. "Mary on a Wave" is about the feminine aspect of God but is in a very masculine tuning: DADDAD. It's also a love song. I wrote "Frontman in Heaven" in an obsessive three- day streak of writing for 14 hours, going to bed, getting up and writing again. It wasn't a pleasant experience. I wrote "Days Spent Floating (in the Halfbetween)" by just jot- ting down the first sentence that popped into my head every morning in October im- mediately after I opened my eyes. At the end of the month I had a finished song. It was recorded as an afterthought as the last thing we did when they were about to kick us out of the studio. You can hear me flub some lyrics. But one take and we had it.
I think this record was me taking my life back to zero and starting to add it all back up again, one plus one plus one. Any part that didn't feel like it added up I left out. Weirdly, it was the easiest and most natural record I've ever made. More than any time in my life before, I felt guided by intuition – like I was going with the grain, walking in the direction the wind was blowing. The closer it got to being finished, the more the confusion I'd felt at the start went away. It's not really an Okkervil River album and it's also my favorite Okkervil River album.
Will Sheff May 18, 2016
Bird Of Youth
Did you ever want to burn down your whole life? Just burn the fucker right down to the ground and start over all over again?
On Bird Of Youth's wrenching and inescapably gripping new full-length Get Off, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Beth Wawerna arrives, matches in hand, at a life perched on ruin.
Following on the heels of 2011's debut Defender, Get Off is the second album from Bird Of Youth, released after five years of tribulation, tragedy, missteps and false starts. Midway through the process of rendering the follow up, Beth's father unexpectedly passed away, sending her into a spiral of self-doubt and self-destruction. Some wretched person once advised "eat, pray, love" as the prescription for a life gone off the rails. Bird Of Youth proposes something more like "drink, drug, fuck."
Get Off's ride is at once harrowing and exhilarating, fraught with the wreckage of lost youth and lost life, long narcotic nights and dreams hanging in the balance. From the Imperial Bedroom-style confessional snapshot of "Passing Phase," to the unstoppably catchy kiss-off "Sons & Daughters," to the psychedelic strung-out/freak-out of "Burn," Get Off is both reflective and reactive – a trial by ordeal and self-realization through personal annihilation. As a document of a single season in hell, Get Off is reminiscent of similar breakthrough-by-way-of-breakdown albums like Big Star's Sister Lovers and Harry Nilsson'sPussycats – albums whose total vulnerability both draw you in and leave a bruise.
Whether she's daring to be great or daring to be gone – lashing out or looking in – the high stakes of Beth's songs never feel less than fully engrossing. Like Joan Didion set to the beat of The Pretenders, Bird Of Youth's late night tales seduce you with fantasy and send you home chastened but satisfied. With lines like, "She fakes for dates and they take the bait but she makes them wait for old time's sake / She hates, she breaks and then she leaves," Beth sketches shattered characters that you earnestly root for as they grope through the void for the thing that will fix them – even if it's just a fix. Reflecting the tough dealing of its author, Get Off is both a first person account from an island of grief and the halting first steps towards a new beginning.
This is Bird Of Youth's first release since signing to Kiam Records alongside critical favorites Jennifer O'Connor and Amy Bezunartea. Delivering on the promise of its predecessor, Get Offrepresents the full flowering of Beth as a singular voice. Abetted by stunning arrangements from lead guitarist, co-producer and main collaborator Clint Newman, crackerjack performances from the rhythm section of Johnny North and Ben Lord and expert mixing from John Agnello (Sonic Youth. Kurt Vile, Breeders) and Phil Palazzolo (Ted Leo, Neko Case), Get Off is a sonic triumph commensurate with its emotional impact.
Fresh off their widely acclaimed 2016 record "Away," Okkervil River have announced a special limited run of acoustic trio shows which will feature fan requests and rarities. These are the first trio shows the band has ever done, and will be limited to four intimate concerts in unusually small rooms. “We wanted to alternate the big rock band thing with something smaller and more songwriting-centered and spontaneous,” says the lead singer and songwriter Will Sheff. "After we had such a rewarding year with "Away" it seemed like a fun idea to play some up close and personal shows, and include requests and surprises." Okkervil River's "Away" was named one of the best records of 2016 by media including Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic and hailed by NPR as "graceful and evocative.”