Armed with a handful of Budweisers and a bottle of Jim Beam, Times New Viking unleashed its variation of a scorched earth policy on the 7th St. Entry Sunday night. Playing just over 20 songs in less than 50 minutes, the Ohio three-piece tore through its set with all the verve one has come to expect from them, though at a slightly lower volume than their albums have suggested.
Touring in support of last month's full length release, Born Again Revisited, TNV maintained a frenetic pace throughout the show, barely even slowing down between most songs, much less pausing for a break, save for some banter about football. The show began with the steady march of "Martin Luther King Day" from the new album and continued with a generous selection of songs from it and their Matador debut, 2008's Rip It Off. Highlights included the minimalist manifesto "Faces on Fire," the chugging drone of "Move to California" (which drummer Adam Elliott introduced as the "storytelling interlude"), and "No Time, No Hope," the clattering single from Born Again.
Considering that Born Again, at least in places, tones down the abrasiveness of its predecessor, it wasn't altogether surprising that TNV's live performance was noticeably quieter than their LPs. Granted, "quiet" is a relative term with TNV as there was still more than enough white noise to go around, but with some of the layers of studio production hiss stripped away the trio's 13th Floor Elevators-style acid wash gave way to glimpses of the music's finer details. Yet while the reduced distortion could have allowed the band's pop songcraft to shine through, it was instead their primitive, repetitive side that took center stage, privileging their love of riffs over their knack for hooks.
Beth Murphy's keyboard jabs were particularly apparent, although her frequently shouted vocals were no less indecipherable than usual, all of which helped accentuate the band's "Sister Ray"-infused murk. When Beth switched to guitar on "I Smell Bubblegum" and Jared Phillips took up the bass, her lethargic leads helped emphasize Jared's full-on attack mode, which he applied to his new instrument with abandon, cribbing the riff from "Holidays in the Sun" and twisting it with little regard for finesse.
Towards the end of the set, TNV played "(No) Sympathy," an angular thrust with tongue-in-cheek lyrics that helped round the night out on an appropriately chaotic -- and above all, playful -- note.
Here's a clip Times New Viking playing "Teen Drama" this summer in Loring Park: