Of all possible late-night shows, you’d think Jimmy Kimmel Live! would be the toughest one for Kurt Vile to play. After all, the bright, distracting lights and the aggressive corporate-sponsor logos of the Kimmel set would seem to clash with the deep, zoned-out vibe that Vile conjures. But Vile has been playing big festivals for years. He’s a professional, and he’s used to performing his songs in situations that don’t really fit them. And last night, he did that on Kimmel.
Vile released his album Bottle It In a few months ago. And last night, he was the musical guest on Kimmel, where he performed the warm and spacey single “Loading Zones” with his band the Violators. As these things go, it was not devoid of awkwardness; Vile’s whole just-rolled-out-of-bed style made an odd fit for that lit-up Kimmel stage. But “Loading Zones” is a lovely song, and it sounded lovely even in that context.
Is it worth Kurt Vile’s while to be playing shows like Kimmel? Does it help him make new fans, looking uncomfortable on this stage and playing his song to whoever might be up late and watching network TV on a Thursday night? Is it a measure of his ability that he can reach this level, playing this incongruous song on an incongruous stage? Am I reading too much into a routine promotional spot? I don’t know. But are you going to miss the chance to see Kurt Vile play his guitar? You can do that below.
Bottle It In is out now on Matador.