ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 3, 2008
Okkervil RiverSunday, Sept. 28, Zilker Park
Nine years ago, absolutely no one, not even bandleader Will Sheff, would have predicted that Okkervil River would be where it is today. Sheff may be the only original member left from those days, but his vision – his songs – are the reason thousands sang and danced to a buoyant set that, no matter what the lyrics were really getting at, offered boundless joy. Concentrating on tunes from the local band's most recent discs, 2007's The Stage Names and its newly-released addendum The Stand Ins, the sextet, including new guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo and a surprise cameo by former guitarist Brian Cassidy, was as dynamic and intense as any group playing the festival. Sheff bounced from one end of the stage to the other, yelping his lyrics, magnetic and ecstatic, his colossal pop hooks full to bursting. The furious "Unless It Kicks" ended the performance with a frenzied clap-along, a high point of the weekend for all involved.