Concerts Concerts Bad Luck Gets The Best of Wild Nothing and Abe Vigoda

Bad Luck Gets The Best of Wild Nothing and Abe Vigoda

Wild Nothing at Wrong Bar
Wild Nothing
Abe Vigoda
Wrongbar
February 17, 2011

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle

Beaten down by a bum van and bumbled audio, Wild Nothing spent Thursday night frowning for a crowded house, while Abe Vigoda stood strong through the mess.

Wild Nothing

I stand firm in my belief that Wild Nothing is responsible for one of the best albums of 2010 with the release of Gemini. This stunning, dreamy LP will endure as one of my favourite headphone recordings, a fact which makes it all the more tough to say that the act's recent performance at Wrongbar was quite possibly the poorest Toronto has seen so far in the new year.

Wild Nothing is officially a one-man band, the dream-pop solo project of Jack Tatum. His recorded work is fuzzy and heady, heavy in intricate synth arrangements and lo-fi layering that just can't be carried onto stage with two hands. To facilitate live appearances, Wild Nothing swells to four members on-stage, and the common concensus throughout the current tour has been that the shows have surpassed expectations.

The same can't be said for their set at Wrongbar, where Wild Nothing's Thursday performance will be remembered as a night of screeching microphones, substandard levels, and sulking performers. Of course, there are excuses to be made. For one, the group's van broke down as they drove from Montreal, causing delays that interfered with their set-up. If you stretch your imagination to its limits, you can convince yourself that this accounts for a show that could have sounded better played over your grade school's PA system. And, as we know, these sorts of problems can really wear down a group's morale, which might explain why Tatum justified quitting a song mid-way when technical issues arose, or why he didn't mind repeatedly grumbling complaints before acknowledging applause with obvious disinterest. I've seen countless minor disasters happen around indie shows (think dead vans and instruments, illness and collapsed stages), but I've never seen anyone quite so dejected on stage; I've never seen a group so unenthusiastic that the lead singer had to force the apology, "I'm sorry, I'm gonna try to cheer up..." (a statement that never came to fruition).

In spite of this, toward the middle of the set, the audio was able to be salvaged and most of what followed sounded impressive, if not arresting. Sadly, that did little to turn the evening around. With Wild Nothing maintaining a funk that they refused to shake from the first song to the last, Toronto fans will have a lot of forgiving to do before they buy tickets for the band's next tour.

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Abe Vigoda

California's Abe Vigoda had the unfortunate luck of drawing the shortest straw and kicking off Thursday's co-headlining evening at Wrongbar. With the same transportation woes dragging them down, the band was forced to skip a proper sound-check and stepped onto the stage unprepared, where they were met inevitably by audio problems that were to continue through the night. With little to say about the matter, they took cues from helpful audience members and worked on adjustments, but the problems proved to be insurmountable back at the sound board, and the performance left a lot to be desired.

For their part, though, Abe Vigoda kept their spirits high and put on brave faces, pounding out their earlier tropical punk tracks as well as their newer synth rock work. In turn, for their part, the audience seemed grateful for the effort.

Things rarely work out as expected on tour, but Abe Vigoda seemed to take their problems in stride - at least, in comparison.  During our brief conversation after the set, lead singer Michael Vidal was positive and unphased, making the simple statement: "Things'll sound better the next time we're here." With this promise to return and his certainty that things will improve, I don't suppose a fan could really ask for more.

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