Kurt Vile performed at Auditorium Shores the day after a bag of his equipment was stolen. Shantel Mitchell for NPR hide caption

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Shantel Mitchell for NPR

Kurt Vile performed at Auditorium Shores the day after a bag of his equipment was stolen.

Shantel Mitchell for NPR

SXSW Music Festival

Kurt Vile, Live In Concert: SXSW 2011

Kurt Vile's Saturday didn't start well: The Philadelphia singer-songwriter had a bag stolen overnight, which robbed him — and his terrific backing band, The Violators — of a good chunk of their signature sound. Vile uses an assortment of pedals to trick out recordings that somehow seem both primitive and polished, darkly acerbic and informed by the sounds of classic rock. But, without them, his music had to rely on its roots.

Fortunately, Vile has never used production as a crutch, and this half-hour set finds him easily accessing his songs' sturdy frames — and with no visible backstage distress or anxiety, either. The songs from Vile's newest album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, don't lose their sideways charm on an outdoor stage, or with limited equipment. Instead, they gain a bit of extra muscle, which they wear well.

Set List
  • "Hunchback"
  • "Jesus Fever"
  • "On Tour"
  • "Ghost Town"
Band Personnel
  • Kurt Vile - Guitars, Vocals
  • Rob Laakso - Bass, Sampler
  • Jesse Trbovich - Guitar, Harmonica, Sax
  • Mike Zanghi - Drums
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