Sunday, February 24, 2008

Super Furry Animals & Times New Viking Concert

Super Furry Animals & Times New Viking Concert

Times New Viking’s live show is somewhat of a paradox in that they sound more clear than they do on their albums. This, of course, is by design. I would be hard pressed to find another band more dedicated to a lo lo fi aesthetic. I was surprised to discover that the male vocalist of the group was actually the drummer, Adam, and not the guitarist. In a live setting the simple drums seemed to propel the performance, thanks in part to Adam having the most active stage personality, even playing the drums while standing up towards the end of the set. Adam introduced the first four songs as pop song number… in ascending order: “pop song #1, pop song #2, etc.” And I suppose that’s exactly what they played: precise, concise pop songs. With most, if not all, of the songs under three minutes long, the set flew by, and if I didn’t have the albums in the back of my head, then I’m not sure how much of an impact the band would have made. Of course, I’m already a convert so I was ready to pray at the altar of Times New Viking.

About three-quarters of the way through Times New Viking’s set, the drummer told the audience that this was the point where they should drop their acid. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Times New Viking’s sound is light years away from rock music conducive for psychedelic drugs, also know as self-indulgent jam band wankering. There is a reason why certain kinds of bands are heavily associated with drugs: they’re too fucking boring to listen to with a clear head. I will admit I was a little afraid that Super Furry Animals, whose music seems intricately geared towards headphone listening, would fall into the “music to drop acid to” category. Thank the gods Super Furry Animals knew that when they show up live it’s time to bring the rock.

Only a handful of songs were chosen from their latest album, Hey Venus!, but more tellingly they chose only one song from Love Kraft, their most laid back studio work. Instead the set list was culled evenly from their entire discography, heavily relying on crowd pleasers and their more pop oriented productions. Lead singer Gruff Rhys came out on stage in a space helmet stolen straight from the set of “Out of this World.” Continuing this cosmic theme, the second song out was the undeniably catchy “Rings Around the World.” On no less than three occasions the band played three songs titled “Uuuuurth 1,” Uuuuurth 2,” and Uuuuurth 3” where they encouraged the audience to participate by placing their hands on their head and wiggling their fingers. Were they trying to call the Grays from behind Venus using us as some kind of antennae, or were they just trying to make us look really stupid. Probably the latter, but I didn’t particularly care. Among the highlights was “Receptacle for the Respectable” where lead singer Gruff Rhys ate a carrot as a part of the percussion section. Gruff even brought back the space helmet towards the end of the show. As they played the final song the band members held up two signs: one with the word Boston on it, in the font of the wonderfully cheesy band; the second, a sign stating “resist false encores.” True to their word it was their last song. Of course, I didn’t mind, it would have been greedy to ask for anything more.

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