Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett— and their band of Sea Lice–closed out their three night sold out streak in Chicago at the legendary Empty Bottle. The pair took the stage just around 9:30, forgoing an opener, to perform songs from their recently released collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice. Their stunning performance began with Vile and Barnett’s debut single from the aforementioned album, “Over Everything.”
From the get go, the crowd at the intimate venue radiated their excitement, displaying as much enthusiasm as a crowd of a larger size. Vile and Barnett radiated a similarly infectious energy, and an electric current of chemistry flowed between the duo and their other bandmates, which included Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney. While the pair performed songs from their Lotta Sea Lice album, they also bounced back and fourth between performing their own songs and covers from other artists. Although they both performed songs from their past albums, Barnett and Vile reworked their songs to make them duets, with Barnett taking on parts in Vile’s songs like “Life Like This” and “On Tour.” Vile also contributed to the live performances of Barnett’s songs like “Depreston” and “Dead Fox.” While they performed, the two would often back away from their microphone stands to meet in the middle of the humble stage, facing each other as they strummed their guitars. Whenever they did this, the musical chemistry between them only grew stronger, making the show that much more special.
Other highlights of the set included the performance of Belly’s song “Untogether” and Gillian Welch’s song “Elvis Presley Blues.” The latter opened up the band’s three song encore, and Vile and Barnett performed that cover as a duo without their band. The stripped back performance allowed for the duo’s harmonies and flawless vocals to really shine through. As the night wound down, Barnett mentioned that the Empty Bottle had been where she played her first show in Chicago, so it was great to be back. The set closed out with two more of the pair’s own songs; “Pretty Pimpin'” and “Avant Gardener.”
The pairing of Barnett and Vile on this album and the accompanying tour showcases the magic that can happen when artists come together and instill a sense of community and camaraderie in the music industry. If you missed out on the spectacular evening, check out our photo gallery of the show below.
This article was originally published via ANCHR Magazine