“Wow, everybody here today is from D.C.!” said our waitress in Charlottesville, where two carsful of friends and I had driven to see Will Oldham, aka Bonnie Prince Billy at his closest date for this summer tour on Saturday. It was my first time in town, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s a very nice place with a beautiful UVA campus and a pretty great concert venue in the Gravity Lounge. Great space, excellent sound, superb beer menu.
And the concert was pretty great too. Though it was billed with The Anomoanon (the band led by Oldham’s brothers, Paul and Ned) as the opening act, Will was actually playing keyboards and maracas with his siblings’ project, and they then backed him, so that throughout the show everyone was onstage together—-except for a brief midpoint in which the three Oldhams played and sang along together.
As you might expect, most of the focus was on tracks from the new Bonnie Prince Billy record, Lie Down in the Light, although they also performed two songs (“Nomadic Revery” and “Death to Everyone”) from BPB’s masterpiece I See A Darkness and even a couple of pieces from his Palace Music repertoire. For the newer songs, guest vocalist Sarah White Ashley Webber—who sang backup on Lie Down—appeared onstage for a few tunes, including the stately “You Want That Picture.” Melancholy as always, the show was nevertheless genuinely fun and Oldham quite charismatic.
(NOTE: I don’t have a photo of Oldham from the show, so you’ll have to take my word for it that when he couples his humongous beard with a fishing hat, as he did Saturday, he looks eerily like circa-1970 Mike Love.)