Even though Times New Viking have made numerous appearances in Cleveland during the past 12 months (including high profile gigs with Yo La Tengo and Mission of Burma) I had no idea what kind of crowd they could draw as a headliner on a Friday night at the Grog Shop. They’re a big deal to me. I consider their latest release, Present the Paisley Reich, a modern masterpiece of noisy, lo-fi rock. I know Matador Records (who are releasing TNV’s next record) consider them to be a big deal. Still, I was surprised that they pulled in a very respectable, good sized crowd. Even more surprising, was the fact that people in the crowd knew the words to “Teenage Lust,” “Natural Resources, I Love Mine,” and “Imagine Dead John Lennon,” and they were dancing. Times New Viking don’t play dance music in a traditional sense. On record their very lo-fi, almost to reactionary levels. In contrast, when you hear them live, you are enveloped in an omnipresent din of organ and guitar. It’s a wonderful feeling. So, maybe, dancing shouldn’t be out of the question.
The Pages were a real revelation for me. The last time I saw them, at Coffinberry’s record release show in May, they weren’t playing with a full band. It was just the guitarist and the drummer and a short fifteen minute set. Now, with the rest of the band in place, I was able to get a much better idea of what these dudes are about. It wasn’t quite punk, and it wasn’t quite garage rock. Thankfully, no one’s been able to come up with a catchy for it. I’ve tried lo-fi revival, boom box rock, and new noise, but all my takes are as cringeworthy as the UK’s phrase nu rave, for the new breed of dance music. Whatever it is, The Pages share a similar, ragged aesthetic with garage bands like The Black Lips and Jay Reatard, and they fit nicely on a mix tape (I called mine Dirty Goo) with some of the more experimental purveyors of this sound including No Age, Health, Friday’s headlines, Times New Viking, or Cleveland’s Very Knees.
The Pages – Can’t be Fixed [download]
Chum chose a curious location for their set: in the corner of the bar past the merch table, directly under the canopy salvaged from the old Grog Shop. It was a great fit for their noisy, lo-fi sound — with everyone packed into that small space it felt less like a rock club and more like a basement show with the only difference being everyone was drinking out of Pabst tall boys instead of anonymous red plastic cups.
I was welcomed to The Grog Shop on Friday night by the sound of airplanes landing, a.k.a., Tusco Terror. There was a small, dedicated group directly in front of the band, transfixed by the sound of jet engines. There was another small group who didn’t care to hear the sounds of Hopkins Airport, and were dedicated to covering their ears. As a funny aside, when I ran into a friend of mine during Chum’s set, I asked him if he heard that first band, who sounded like airplanes landing, and he said, “Yes, that’s why I was downstairs at the B-Side Lounge getting a drink.”