Listen to Austin 360 Radio

ACL Fest Review: Okkervil River

Joe Gross

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 4, 2013

5 things about Okkervil River’s 5 p.m. Friday

1. The winner for Most Improved Voice in Austin, 2003 to 2013 is Will Sheff, hands down. Haircut still pretty much the same, however.

2. The horn thing works for him, as long as it is used sparingly (which is true for most folks). The current live incarnation of Okkervil, which contains Sheff as the only original member, has eight players, including Sheff and two horns. The accent, but never drive.

3. Drummer Cully Symington has been with them for years now, but he still feels like a breath of fresh air, getting busy on “For Real,” juicing up the songs

4. “John Allyn Smith Sails” aka “the one that turns into ‘Sloop John B,’” gets the loudest crowd response. Because come on, everyone loves the Beach Boys.

5. “The Valley,” from “I Am Very Far” is a barn burner, Sheff trading in the beat-up acoustic he manically strums for most of the set for an electric and a much needed dose of rock ‘n’ roll blowout. Electric violin. weird solos, feedback, it’s all there, trading in the Band for Band of Gypsies.