Guy with long hair playing guitar

  In the great energy field called the universe, there are many energies. When a musician expresses his, we can use any number of hoary old cliches to describe what they do. Hendrix's was fire; the Stones, sex; the Beatles, melodic rainbows; Black Sabbath, devil's feces; Tori Amos, cramps; Allman Brothers, southern rivers; Bon Jovi, hairspray; Pink Floyd, hallucinatory drift; the Grateful Dead, burning braided armpit hair.
    Et cetera.
   With relative newcomer 36-year-old Kurt Vile of five albums to his name, the word 'vibe' comes up a lot. And I must concur. I spent the evening with him recently, Saturday, April 3, to be exact. It was in a nice-sized room, the ageless Newport specifically, but it could have been a broom closet. I haven't felt closer while standing farther from an artist. Something about that boy, I must admit, makes it easy to breathe the same air he does.
    He rolled nicely, like my late great hero, J.J. Cale--but without the swamp groove. He tinkled semi-acoustically like Neil Young--but without The Loner's haunting lyrics or his emotional whine which has so well represented the crying of humanity. Vile acts and plays like his race is already won, why bother wearing yourself out? We'll get there sooner or later.
   How's this for a descriptive metaphor to maybe convey the Kurt Vile experience? He's like porch-music-plus, nothing heavy, maybe like fishing with gramps when you were a kid but knowing at that particular time gramps was the coolest adult around--as long as you ignored his occasional snort. Not that Vile is a boozer. How would I know? Spontaneous misbehavior ain't his thing onstage, that's for damn sure. He was just real damn interesting. Does any of this make sense? 
   Technicallly, in a way, it was a flat-liner of a show. And in paramedic circles doesn't that mean someone who has croaked off this mortal coil, gone on to that great big ol' dust bin on human molecular construction in the sky? Ya know--dead?
   Why, yes, I believe it does, Raylan.
   But I mean there was just a study sublime low-fidelity, low-humidity buzz buzz buzz in the lanky guy's playing, picking, strumming, speaking, singing, melodicizing and lyrical depictions about tomboys, his hunched back (only in song), dust bunnies, a freak train, etc. In that vibe, thanks to his words, glimpses of darkness escape like a black hole inversion. But you can't say he's making a career out of it. It just, you know, happens. You think, huh, that was a little weird. And thus he draws you in, never to revulse you. He is safe.
     Standing back and taking stock, you see some nice musical impulses. Sorta folkie, bluegrass-y, singer-songwriter-ly, one-man-show-y (though he has a fine three-man band backing him). Low-key would be too low-energy a phrase to describe him. He was there, sure, but he was more than there, because the word 'there' simply doesn't help me out. Not much, anyway.
   Speaking of help, Buddha, where are ya when I need ya?
   Ah, the great fat man laughs his wisdom to me: Kurt Vile has got zen. 
   He makes it look easy. No fuss, no muss. He stands, his long-ass wavy-gravy hair falling in orderly tresses, his concentration about as intense as a kid happily coloring who has no talent. He sings with no great passion, his lyrics whimsically slightly humorous when not slightly tragic, slacking back and forth. Slacking as only a slacker can. Yet without slovenliness in attitude.
   If you listen to Pretty Pimpin', Jesus Fever or Peeping Tomboy, no way do you get a sneak-peek into some visionary truths littering his man-child cosmos. You just get his impressionistic inner-cranial finger-wall-painting not unlike what they find in France these days, or in the Black Hills where you might've found an old conquistador's helmet amongst a dead Sioux's burial site next to a decorated buffalo-skin shield.
   And yet he just gently burned his way into my nodding noggin, as I received his slow-train pace, not too slow but certainly not very fast. He's got his houses, planets and vectors lined up just right. Somehow or other, I think this guy will sound exactly like he did several nights several decades from now. And I'll like him just as much.
   Just don't ask me to put my damn finger on why. I'll plead the cosmic fifth and more as to why I liked him: I just don't know.