Times New Viking/Abe Vigoda :: @ The Smell – June 16, 2008 – DTLA
Sometimes you have to see a band live for them to truly make sense. The blown cones and tinny treble of Times New Viking’s Matador debut, Rip it Off, brings new meaning to the term “lo-fi.” The album is so buzzy, so thin, as to be nearly unlistenable, no matter how bright and punchy the underlying music may be.
Live, the Vikings are a different beast. Following increasingly chaotic sets by Bipolar Bear, Fabulous Diamonds, and Psychedelic Horseshit, the pride of Columbus set up in a tight circle around drummer Adam Elliot and let the tired, sweaty crowd close in. Freed from the self-imposed constraints of Rip it Off’s aesthetic, songs like “Teen Drama” are more welcoming and, in turn, far more aggressive. The crowd responded in kind, pogoing ever-closer, falling over Elliot’s drums and pushing forward until there was no longer any barrier between crowd and band. Times New Viking fed off of the energy, pushing deeper into the red, Elliot howling and standing on his drum throne, guitarist Jared Phillips thrashing through piles of riffs. The experience was utterly different from listening to Rip it Off; where the record’s aesthetic keeps the listener at arm’s length, the live show’s energy (quite literally) pulled the audience in.
The crowd dispersed a bit by the time Abe Vigoda took the stage around midnight, whether exhausted from the Times New Viking workout or simply by the late night. The thinned room, coupled with several technical difficulties (broken strings, quiet vocals) kept the group fumbling. That said, the L.A. punk outfit’s tunes are so tight, so melodic, and so interesting that, despite everything working against them, they managed to put together a decent set. The group – imagine Vampire Weekend if they focused more on Vampire and less on Weekend – was propelled by drummer Reggie Guerrero’s barreling tropical rolls. They tore with studied fury through songs from their upcoming Skeleton, both guitars drenched in echo and reverb and bass bobbing enough to get a normal crowd dancing. But it was the ambitious movement of two as-yet-unrecorded songs, snaking from dancey salsa to straight 80s hardcore and back again, that show that Abe Vigoda are just as the actor with whom they share a name. words/marty garner