Concert Review: Sun Kil Moon, September 12, Opera House

sun kil moon

“All you fucking hillbillies shut the fuck up.”

With those words, Sun Kil Moon‘s Mark Kozelek gained a bit of internet notoriety last week after going off on a chatty, inattentive crowd at Raleigh’s Hopscotch Festival before he had even played a note. More recently he took some shots at The War On Drugs at this past weekend’s Ottawa Folk Festival as they seemingly offended him with their “beer commercial lead guitar shit.” It seems he’s on a bit of a roll these days.

Kozelek’s on record as being a big fan of boxing, so in a way it comes as no surprise that when he’s pissed off he’ll come out swinging, much like Mike Tyson did in that recent interview with CP24 that also made the rounds last week. While not as vicious as Iron Mike can be, Kozelek’s been known to go on the offensive with audiences fairly regularly, so it wasn’t really news, but I guess the hillbilly thing made for a good quote so people ran with it.

I’d heard many tales of curmudgeonly Kozelek lashing out at audiences for their misdeeds, but in my only prior experience seeing him live, I caught him in generally good spirits. On this evening in Toronto, he was also in a good mood and faced an audience that was most definitely on his side, perhaps even a little too much. As Kozelek and his bandmates (which included Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley) took to the stage, the closest thing they got to a heckle was someone shouting out, “No hillbillies here!” The good mood continued throughout the night with Kozelek thanking us for being a good audience, telling us how much he loves Canada, giving shout outs to maple syrup and “hot Asian girls,” and reminiscing about the first time he came to Toronto at age 18.

Playing with a full band may have also had something to do with Kozelek’s good spirits. Much of the set was dominated by songs from the latest Sun Kil Moon album, Benji, and they benefited from the fleshed out arrangements (“This two drummer stuff is giving me a boner,” noted Kozelek at one point). For a few songs Kozelek even stood up, put down his guitar,  and fronted the band, giving it a bizarro pop crooner sort of vibe. He joked that he was standing up so that he could stay awake (“This music makes me sleepy.”) though maybe there’s a bit of truth to that as I will admit that towards the end of the show I was feeling like I could have used a nap earlier in the day. Maybe that’s just me though.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts