Tom Vek Returns

July 13th, 2011

Tom Vek – Mercury Lounge – July 12, 2011

Photo: Katie Coleslaw

Ladies and gentlemen the search for the elusive Tom Vek is over. The Facebook group Where is Tom Vek? can rejoice that the man himself finally graced a New York City stage, at Mercury Lounge last night, reappearing after a six-year hiatus with an album, full of new material, entitled Leisure Seizure. The great thing about the current musical landscape and the democratization of music is that it allows for artists like Vek, Cloud Nothings or Ariel Pink for that matter, to create in relative obscurity one minute and then perform at Mercury Lounge the next. The only trouble with being thrust into the spotlight is the difficulty in trying to recreate an album’s energy live after being cut off from the collaborative process.

Vek has solved that problem with a four-piece band that ably tackles his odd rhythmic structures bent on self-destruction and decidedly anchors the grooves in imperfect solos—and the organic instrumentation that elevated We Have Sound beyond digital-dance contemporaries LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture. Playing crowd favorites “C-C (You Set the Fire in Me)” and “Nothing but Green Lights” early on reassured that Vek never left. He was merely evolving with the rest of the musical landscape into an entirely new, slick and, of course, danceable reincarnation of the Talking Heads–influenced New Wave.

Vek continues to have a very specific voice, both instrumentally and vocally. His slow drawl, at times reminiscent of David Byrne, is part of the draw. It’s not a traditionally melodic voice, and his mechanical landscape benefits from this kind of uniquely humanizing element, keeping the whole effort grounded in real emotions and imperfections. Like Owen Ashworth of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Vek is a bedroom romantic with unbounded access to a thousand electronics, using them the only damaged way he knows how. The huge void James Murphy has left by calling it quits leaves Vek in the perfect position to continue on with those intellectual dance sounds, inspiring a new adage: Tom Vek comes to those who wait. —Jason Dean