Go East, Young Men

April 1st, 2010

Abe Vigoda – Mercury Lounge – March 31, 2010

There will always be a rivalry between the East and West Coasts…and the rest of the country. For every genre reinvented in Brooklyn, there is a counterpart popping up somewhere around L.A. It might be because the whole world is now smaller and gets cross-pollinated easier. But even more important, these cities continue to thrive because of their massive cultural diversity, and as a result, sounds continually combine in entirely unique ways.

Abe Vigoda headed east Wednesday night to play new material off a yet-to-be-released album at Mercury Lounge. Their influences have always been a surprisingly close relative to Animal Collective’s polyrhythmic percussion, but on that other coast, the band began with a surf-guitar sound that ends up somewhere near the equator with a high-pitch reverb kettle-drum sound of dual guitar-plucked strings. The bursts of vocals from Juan Velazquez and Michael Vidal feel like they have a lot in common in that tribal collective chanting. But whereas the surf genre relies on speed, Abe Vigoda focuses on complex structure with a downright virtuosity akin to Don Caballero’s dense, time-signature shifting, fret-tapping tunes.

The drums don’t ever seem to rely on a typical structure for very long, shifting rhythms throughout any given song with a flurry of time changes. They’re extremely precise in recreating intricate-speed chaos—bouncing around with punk energy, looking toward the audience to keep up. Abe Vigoda played tracks from Skeleton and showcased a new direction with arrangements in synth and drum machines that maintain their energy in a new punk electronic direction. The Barney Miller star has to be proud. —Jason Dean