Times New Viking
Spencey Dude and the Doodles
@ the Rickshaw Stop
June 14, 2011
Better than: A doubleheader of Williamson-era Stooges, and then a 14-inning ball game.
It seemed that most of the crowd at the Rickshaw Stop last night was there for just one thing: second opener King Tuff, the Vermont psych-garage-rock 'n' roll group -- or is it a person? -- known for its mystery and reclusiveness. How could I tell? Maybe it was the large proportion of denim-jacketed longhairs at every turn. Or that a third of the crowd disappeared between Tuff and headliners Times New Viking.
The night opened with local group Spencey Dude and the Doodles, a bratty garage-pop trio that was infectious as it was silly. The crowd got behind hookier songs like "Girl Crazy," bouncing along to the infectious boy-girl harmonies and loud (LOUD) guitar.
King Tuff then took the stage, which pushed the crowd of flannel and denim forward. King Tuff is alternately referred to as the pseudonym or the band fronted by Kyle Thomas, guitarist and/or singer for Feathers, Witch (with J. Mascis) and Happy Birthday. After last night's show, I'd cast my vote for "band fronted by," as the five-member group was cohesive, but sloppy; the perfect fleshy accompaniment to Thomas's wild-eyed frontman strut.
The other four members of the band looked between the ages of 17 and 20, and had the equipment to match their age -- Squiers, Epiphones, and sputtering instrument cables. But they also had enough instrumental chops to bring the tracks from Tuff's 2009 album Was Dead to a life greater than any hinted at by the comparatively thin, slow, and detached sound of that album (it only seems that way comparatively). The songs weren't merely the live versions of garage-pop ditties committed to tape, but became that elusive creature called rock 'n' roll, reserved only for tunes too immediate to be genre-fied.
Thomas himself took on the duties of singer/lead guitarist/center of attention with a maniacal but cool-headed fervor, wailing out guitar solos like it was '72, dancing and hopping and yelping to the breakneck pace of his band. There was no inkling of Thomas's famed reclusiveness, only swagger. The King Tuff built to a climax in "Sun Medallion," punctuated by Thomas's high voltage leads, which brought the crowd to one last frothing ecstasy, before departing a stage both literally and figuratively too small for them.