Local singer-songwriter Kurt Viers (stage name, “Kurt Vee“) comes from the old school of punk. He’s studied at the school of hardscrabble living and has the rock and roll image down, now he just needs the fame. It might be hard to imagine anyone with just an acoustic guitar (acoustic/electric, mind you) being that edgy, but Kurt pulls it off. Last Tuesday at the Riot Room I caught up with him and his drummer Adam Park (look for a full length interview exclusively on Demencha in the coming months); the two of them together currently comprise Kurt Vee.
He’s what I’d call “post-emo” for a generation raised on artists with more style than substance. Fortunately, Kurt Vee has a surplus of both. Kurt’s music exists somewhere between Brand New in some of its more acoustic moments, and early Bright Eyes with some street-wise cynicism of punk godfather Jim Carroll tossed in. His lyrics are dark and often playful, and along with his delivery, are easily his most original and interesting assets. Within each verse he spins out ambiguous tales of “bone show kid(s)” and people that are comparable to “nuclear warhead(s).” All this and somehow his choruses are expertly melodic and catchy. Those confused by his seemingly random collection of word play and bizarre imagery can take heart in the relatively short length of most of his compositions.
Vee is no slouch on the guitar either. Sometimes he plays like he’s been listening to a lot of Kaki King, but then quickly veers (you see what I did there…) off into riffing territory and palm muted chords. The songs are carried along by Vee’s steady picking hand and his strange vocals which careen breathlessly from an affected tone to a haunting falsetto all during one section of verse/chorus/verse in songs like “Mr Grudging and the Got Dead.” Other songs like “Quick Kick to the Shin Kid. You Wake Kid Run,” find Kurt exploring the outer reaches of cryptic confessional rock.
Live, Kurt has filled out his sound with drummer/percussionist Adam Park, who is just as likely to beat on a pot or pan as he is an actual drum head. The unorthodox approach is an appropriate compliment to Kurt himself as he moves spastically behind the mic. It still remains to be seen whether Kurt Vee will attain the notoriety that his back story and talent long for, but right now he’s one of the few original singer-songwriters in town that are making people take notice.
(Currently, Kurt is hard at work on a demo with producer/engineer MFC. Some older recordings are available through his Band Camp page. Below is one track called “Jesus Got the Goat” and a live video from a Record Bar show last year. Look for Kurt Vee later this month at Davey’s Uptown as part of Amy Farrand’s Weirdo Wednesday Supper Club and the Czar Bar in March.)