Monday, February 28, 2011

Wild Nothing, Abe Vigoda and M. Women at the Vera 2-28-11

Carina and I headed down to the Vera Project to check out Sunday night's show. Unfortunately the schedule was a little earlier than I expected (bands at 8, 9 and 10, I expected them to be a half hour later) so we missed M. Women's set, which was too bad. Tristan told me that members of M. Women (which is an abbreviation for Medieval Woman based on materil on their CD) so with any luck I should get an opportunity to see them again. I got their inexpensive CD while I was at the show so I could at least give them a listen and they're fun: fuzzed out guitar oriented rock, verses traded back and forth between (I think) a couple of male vocalists and a female. One of the men reminds me a little of Fred in the B52s, almost talking while he's singing.

On to the acts I actually got to see live, not just listen to on CD.

First up was Abe Vigoda - I love the name, I grew up watching Barney Miller and Abe Vigoda was a key part of that show. His ability to communicate a complex idea by raising an eyebrow or just looking at someone was hilarious. He also had a prominent role in the Godfather movies, telling Michael "It wasn't personal, just business" as Michael orders his murder (if I remember right) so the band gets a certain amount of credit in my head off of those associations. It didn't hurt that they put on a good engaging show.
In the photo above the guy on the right playing keyboards played guitar about as much as the keyboards. The guitarist standing just behind him (partially obscured by him) is actually the drummer. He left a drum machine playing at the beginning of the song, put down his sticks, and went over and got the white strat out and played it for a verse or two, then put it down and went back to the drums without missing a beat. The keyboard player switched back to the white strat for many of the songs.

I tried to get a tighter closeup on the two here:
...and it ended up looking like the guitarist is some sort of evil demon with glowing red eyes. This has nothing to do with the show, but it amuses me so I included it.

I have a slightly hard time describing them, they aren't too much like any other band I can think of. Some of the guitar approach and effects remind me a little of middle Pink Floyd, but only vaguely. Good guitar work, good interplay between instruments, nice song structures. Different songs actually sound quite different - sure it's the same band, but they vary the sound quite a bit from song to song. The first video I recorded (that flickr can host) had some lousy camera work at the start but then settles in:

I liked this one; it took a little for the hooks and sound to sink in and gel, but it grew on me as they played. They sound different, and coming from me that's a compliment. Once again the 90 second limit is a bit of a disservice, but that's the best I can do with flickr.

This next song (after a sloppy opening, sorry about the poor camera work, I should've trimmed it but I'm too lazy) has an interesting interplay between the 2 guitars, fairly repetitive at first, but it evolves and changes, then returns to the underlying hook. It also includes a nice bit of dual vocals around a minute in.

Between the interesting song structures, the guitar vs. guitar interplay and the doubled vocals here and there I found a lot to like about this band.

Next up was Wild Nothing, the headliners.
Wild Nothing's songs usually seem to last 4 to 6 or 7 minutes and they like to develop them over time, adding sounds and changing things, the results are quite interesting, this is a band with some good ideas and the chops to pull them off, but the 90 second limit on flickr video posts works against them - you don't get to hear the full arc of the song on a clip like this:

Interesting approach, mostly pretty guitar oriented but the bass player did play some keyboards in a few songs. Nice band moving in some different directions which is perhaps a bit of a theme for the night, since Abe Vigoda also could be described as moving in different directions.

I liked seeing the two bands with different but thematically similar (in my head, anyway) approaches on a single bill. It'll be interesting to see if either band breaks through to bigger success, they certainly have the potential in talent. They seem to be moving in some different directions that don't sound too much like anybody else, and I'm a fan of new approaches so I'm rooting for them.

The apparent different directions may be a side effect of my lack of musical knowledge - there could be many bands that sound just like that - but I think both bands have the potential to carve out a unique sound/style and develop into interesting bands worth following for years to come.

Update: as NWMusicPDX pointed out in the comments below, I originally had the 2 bands backwards in this post. Doh! Hopefully I have that straightened out now.


  1. Interesting review, but I think you flip flopped the bands in your pics and vids. The cat in the grey button down shirt and cream telecaster is Jack Tatum (Wild Nothing). Sounds like a great show though can't wait to check 'em tonight. It's cool you're getting out and supporting live music, the world would be a much better place if more people supported the arts. Take it easy, and thanks for checking out NWMusicPDX.

  2. Watcha live stream of there show from Los Angeles this friday 8pm pst here: