Abe Vigoda: Live Last Night


Live Last Night

By Patrick Foster

At age 88, Abe Vigoda probably doesn't think of himself as having much connection with rock and roll. But from scads of kids who picked up the bass to learn the opening riff of the "Barney Miller" theme song (Vigoda played Detective Fish on the 70's sitcom) to the Los Angeles band who named themselves after him (based on his appearances on "Late Night with Conan O' Brien"), the case (perhaps stretched by a reviewer needing an intro) can be made.

The band Vigoda made their D.C. headlining debut at DC9 last night and they didn't mention the actor Vigoda or spend much time reproducing the shimmery surfaces that populate their recordings. The 40-minute set was simply churning, angular art-punk.

More rocket club than rock club in appearance, it's surprising Abe Vigoda hails from the same hip California scene that produced No Age, Mika Miko and HEALTH. But the cross-layered, clanging guitars and taut, gut-punch rhythm section of songs like "Bear Face" quickly made the connection. And though the show featured songs from 2008's acclaimed "Skeleton," this year's stopgap EP "Reviver" and new songs, they were all of a piece: The vocals of Michael Vidal and Juan Velazquez were obscured to the point of incomprehension, the edges of their melodies blurred, the underlying influence undiluted punk and indie rock.

And if the sound recalled semi-forgotten forbearers like Live Skull (or soon to be forgotten peers like Oxford Collapse), it suited Vigoda just fine. And if the lingering feeling was intrigue -- wonderment over the intentionally craggy and woozy spaces in the music, well, Vigoda got their point across.

By David Malitz |  July 15, 2009; 11:36 AM ET Live Last Night
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