Columbus, OH noise-pop trio Times New Viking came back to the Bishop on Thursday, June 30 thanks to Spirit of '68 Promotions. I missed them last time they came to Bloomington, IN due to decision-making and lack of sleep during Sprit's multiple-day Pit Stop Music Marathon last spring when I chose the Surfer Blood and Murder by Death shows over theirs, so I knew I had to go. While I've never considered them one of my favorite bands, I was always intrigued by their combination of the Jesus and Mary Chain's noise/pop duality and Guided by Voices' lo-fi-or-bust attitude.
Starting the show were locals Sleeping Bag, who have been blowin' up as of late. Here in town there would be a danger of oversaturation if the tunes weren't so damn good. The three-piece plays simple pop-rock where every note counts. They remind me a lot of Pedro the Lion, but that's probably because drummer/lead vocalist Dave Segedy sings in a low, plain style. The melodies are catchy but never sugary, like in opener "Slime" which Segedy uses repeated words to craft effective melodic rhythms. Later they rocked "Ben", which has a great singable chorus: "I'm not that kind of a Christian / No, I'm not that kind of a Lutheran / It's not that kind of a question / No, I'm not that kind of a Christian." Guitarist Lewis Rogers may dress like your middle school social studies teacher, but he can shred with the best of 'em, letting loose with freak-out guitar solos ą la Jeff Tweedy or Britt Daniels. I thought he was gonna jimmy-leg right off the stage a couple times. Bassist David Woodruff strikes hilarious mock-rockstar poses and keeps the low end on lock, except when his E string is tuned to F. Whoops! They closed with older track "Another Time", a steady 6/8 jam that's a bit grittier than their other tunes but still poppy with plenty of "doot doot"s.
Next was Chicago's Tyler Jon Tyler, who cleared up confusion by letting us know that no one in the band is named Tyler...or Jon. Rebecca Valeriano-Flores, a very tiny guitar-wielding chick, fronts the band. Rad. She sings in a surprisingly low range, especially with her small frame, but she occasionally yells up higher. The band comes off like a more surfy Sleater-Kinney in their no-frills rock approach. One other thing of note: Their bass player plays a right-handed bass left-handed. So what, you say? Well, he didn't restring it-he was literally playing it upside down. Odd. While their stage show was underwhelming, the tunes I'm listening to as I write come off well on record-for example, "Tick Tock Tick" from their self-titled 7" is a scrappy and solid garage rock ditty.
Times New Viking took the stage fairly quickly thanks to backlining, and it may seem silly but that kinda thing gives me a good first impression of a band. If you're unfamiliar, their setup is as such: Beth Murphy on vocals and keyboard, Adam Elliott on vocals and drums and Jared Phillips on guitar. Despite having only one guitar and no bass, they are loud and obnoxious in the best way. Phillips rocks a "Germanium" Big Muff that he got the craziest, ear-drum-busting sounds out of.
So anyway, I'm most familiar with the band's 2008 Matador debut Rip It Off, and though they didn't play my favorites off of that ("(My Head)" and "Drop-Out"), I really enjoyed the whole set. I cannot tell you every song they played because the set list I procured off the stage was completely illegible both in handwriting and in that every song title was shortened/abbreviated within an inch of its life. They came off much more "punk" than on record, probably because the pseudo-genre lo-fi is all based on production techniques and doesn't come off so much live. Even with their new album Dancer Equired, which is their most cleaned-up record to date, the songs were loud, in your face, and sped up to make them fit perfectly with the rest of their repertoire. That's right, lo-fi bands have a "repertoire" too. They played "No Room to Live", a kickass song that is chill by their standards (and also has one of the coolest videos I've seen in a long time) and "Fuck Her Tears", which is just a Ramones song from an alternate art school universe. Also worth mentioning is that their stage presence was friendly and funny, despite the assumption that they'd be pretentious art school assholes. I enjoyed their whole set thoroughly.
I highly recommend checking out Sleeping Bag if you want get on that train early, 'cuz it's a-comin'. Tyler Jon Tyler seem like nice folks, but again, kinda lackluster. And Times New Viking, if you've never heard 'em, be prepared for the treble attack and go give it a try. Dancer Equired might be a good place to start because the faint of heart (not me) would for sure be turned off by the sheer levels of the Rip it Off record or anything before that. Ohio is for fuzz lovers, apparently.