Okkervil River Combine Poetry and Violence at Lollapalooza

August 2, 2008 11:30 PM ET

Okkervil River got things off to a murderous start. The Austin band opened with "The President's Dead" and immediately continued on a bloody pace with the violent wishfulness of "Black." Yet to frontman Will Sheff and a horde of attentive onlookers, it was all just part of a literary act in which sharing misery with company became reason to celebrate and shed any ill will. Rarely has dismay sounded so joyous. Sheff introduced an Ivy League literary seriousness to jangly street-busking pop, rhyming lyrical couplets and chronicling character predicaments as he told stories of loss and retribution. By the end of the performance, he'd loosened his tie and sang with the intensity of a spurned preacher, promoting the escapism of "Unless Its Kicks" as universal truth.

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