The crowd in the Black Cat Backstage was minimal last night, but they sure were full of Memorial Day fury. Well, at least by Times New Vikings' short but sonic set. Lead singer/drummer Adam Elliott took his seat comfortably behind the drum kit and asked "Hi DC! How many of you are drunk? Yeah? Ok, how many of you are on your second drunk? Good, let's party."
Party? Well, I wouldn't go that far. This Columbus, Ohio tripod of "lo-fi indie rock" sure wants to party with their rollicking mix of heavy beats and slow jams, but between the myriad of technical problems, extreme heat and lack of local support, it seemed more like a basement keg party broken up by the cops just after midnight than a rock and roll show.
That's not to say I didn't have a good time, I did. I caught The Babies entire opening set, and despite bassist Kevin Morby announcing his recovery from a bout of food poisoning, they sounded pretty great. Lead guitarist Cassie Ramone looks like she could stand to eat anything at all, but her slim figure doesn't slow down her quick-fingered sound. Adam from TNV watched most of the set and seemed genuinely pleased with these Brooklynites.
While I originally came for The Babies, I decided Times New Viking needed some support considering they likely barely cleared the cost of gas from here to tonight's show in Charlottesville. Merge Records has a pretty wicked hard on for drummers who act as lead singers (See Telekinesis), and usually they are right on target for this kind of talent. It helps when the rest of the band can amply back you, and among other things Merge likes, is a strong female pianist. Beth Murphy doesn't exactly get me going like Missy Thangs from The Love Language, but she is certainly talented.
That, and Jared Phillips is one bad ass guitarist. When his guitar simply quit working midway through the opening riff of one of the last few songs, he kicked a few things around, then just dropped his guitar and went roaring off stage for another nearly identical white fender. This guitar lasted about fours songs more before deciding to break down in the midst of the very last song of the encore. At this point, the band was over it and really wanted to party. They closed the show instead with a Indie appropriate "fuck it" attitude and made their way to find some more booze.
Not bad for a Monday night. While it was, mind you, only 11:45, I didn't stay to hang out. I imagine the gang of crowd thrashers who banged around the front of the stage managed to show these guys a good time. Happy Memorial Day from Times New Viking.
See also the images from the DCist's review.