Okkervil River Pour Out The Emotions at Club Helskini (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

Singer/songwriter/ guitarist Will Sheff’s Okkervil River played a string of Northeast shows in advance of their forthcoming LP Away due out September 9th. The short run of shows made a stop at Club Helsinki, a hidden gem of a music venue tucked away in the Catskill Mountain town of Hudson, NY.

Personal and professional turmoil found Sheff in a remote mountain cabin where the new album, Away, was written and the artist explained, “…Eventually, I realized I was kind of writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new”, and the band began the show with the opening track of the new album, the moving “Okkervil River R.I.P.”. Sheff led the current line-up of Okkervil River which is Will Graefe on guitar, Cully Symington on drums, Benjamin Lazar Davis on up-right and electric bass, and Sarah Pedinotti on keyboards from behind a 12 string acoustic guitar for two more songs from the new album, “Call Yourself Renee” and “The Industry” before switching to a six string acoustic and older material “A Girl in Port” and “Down Down the Deep River”.


Emotions pour out of Will Sheff when he sings and his vocals reached an emotional peak when the band played “Come Indiana Through the Smoke”, a song written about the artist’s Grandfather’s service on the USS Indiana in the South Pacific during World War II. The song also featured haunting acoustic bass played by Davis with a bow. The new album was a big focus of the show and two more new songs, “Judy on a Street”, that had ending that seemed to melt into a puddle on the stage, and “She Would Look for Me”, preceded a humorous cover of Ted Lucas’ “It Is So Nice to Get Stoned”. The new songs were well received by the very attentive audience but an older song, “For Real”, triggered the loudest applause of the evening.

Okkervil River completed their live preview of the new album with “Mary on a Wave” that had keyboardist Sarah Pedinotti doubling up on harmonica and the last track on the album, “Days Spent Floating (In the Half Between)”  that featured more beautiful acoustic bass. The band ended the set with a fiery version of “Unless It’s Kicks” from OkkervilRiver’s 2007 release The Stage Names. A few minutes of loud applause brought the band back and delighted the crowd with “So Come Back, I Am Waiting” for an encore.


Will Sheff is one of those rare artists whose passionate song writing combined with soulful vocals provide a live music experience which an audience can feel and not just see and hear. The musician has seen many personnel changes over the years, but the current line-up he has assembled is super tight. OkkervilRiver’s new material was well received by even the most hardcore Okkervil fans that were calling out song titles from the band’s seven previous albums that prompted Will Sheff to explain that they were not going to take requests for this performance.


Okkervil River Setlist Club Helsinki, Hudson, NY, USA 2016


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