In what is, perhaps, the most endearing way to debut new music, Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff returned to his hometown of Meriden, NH to perform at different open-mic nights in the area. He and longtime friend and collaborator Aaron Johnson — they started playing music together when they were 8! — reunited after 15 years to do the sets together around New England. You can watch them work out track “Down Down The Deep River” from OR’s upcoming album The Silver Gymnasium below and watch this tour of Meriden that Sheff did for NPR here.

The Silver Gymnasium is out 9/3 via ATO.

Comments (2)
  1. This is very good. I admit that I actually like the concept more than the actual outcome. The audio is, of course, poor in most of the venues they visit in the video. But, that is part of the idea of the video, and really the whole idea of how this album is being presented in general. Returning to no budget open mic nights where no one is really interested in who you are, or what you have to play for them. Just a guy in a small town with a guitar and a song, and that is exactly the nutrient rich roots Will needed to dig back down to after the transcontinental altitude level detail and inclusiveness that made ‘I Am Very Far’ so misty and hard to wrap your arms around.

  2. I have a really really good feeling about this album.

    Also, Okkervil River can be pretty clever with promoting their albums before they come out. I dunno if anyone remembers or was paying attention but, before “The Stand-Ins” they had friends and labelmates like A.C. Newman, Bon Iver, Bird of Youth among others cover each song on the album in youtube videos. It fit the theme (the musicians covering the songs were “stand-ins”) and it was also interesting to give listeners reinterpretations of songs before the originals were even released.

    This video is similar in that it’s a promotional tool that is also an artistic choice that thematically and conceptually fits with the album, since we know that Sheff’s hometown where he grew up plays a significant part in the album art and lyric video we’ve seen so far. It’s not a 15-second Spotify commercial; it’s not a banner ad on a music blog (though I’m sure there will be those too); it’s Will Sheff sharing a part of himself and his past. It’s pretty neat.

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