Fresh off an announcement that he’ll soon be drafting a new live lineup, opener Daniel Pujol of PUJOL performed entirely from atop a cinder block in front of the stage. Except for the solo in set-closer “Too Safe,” that is, when he milled around a bit. Wait … can a solo truly be called a “solo” when the performer in question is playing as a one-piece? Anyway, PUJOL later told us that the cinder block wasn’t a soapbox so much as an “auction block” and a self-imposed means of keeping himself relatively stationary. (He seems to think he wanders around the stage a bit too much otherwise.) Garage-punk gems like “Endless Mike” and “Keeper of Atlantis” took on a ballad-esque air in solo context, thanks primarily to the near-romantic googly-eyed staring contest Pujol and Nashville’s Dead rep Ben Todd maintained for most of the set.
Roughly half of The End’s patrons remained on the smoking porch for Casa Castile’s performance. We have to say, their Vake EP was one of our favorite local finds of 2010, but the more practiced Casa Castile’s live lineup becomes, the further they seem to drift from the insulated bedroom-pop aesthetic that made us fall for Vake. Regardless, it’s pleasant to see a batch of music-school dudes doing more than just showing off their music-school tricks and chops. Any way you slice it, “Haunted Ecstasy” and “Lights and Flashes” are genuinely awesome songs, so we’ll keep listening.
The End’s crowd finally congealed near the stage as Kurt Vile and his Violators kicked off somewhere near midnight. All long hair and dour countenances, The Spin feels comfortable saying that, visually, Vile & Co. could quite possibly pass for a doom-metal band. But, while the sonics of their set were relatively sludgy and dense, the songs themselves are rock ’n’ roll the way dudes like Lou Barlow, J Mascis and Lou Reed made it in their prime: heavy with melodically transfixing guitars, and totally informed by pop. Don’t believe us? Well, they played a Springsteen cover — “Downbound Train,” to be precise — and just try listening to a cut like “Jesus Fever” from Vile’s Smoke Ring for My Halo without getting that lick stuck in your head. That, friends, is the sort of pop song that sneaks up on you. Our favorite kind.