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CONCERT REVIEW: Breeders / Times New Viking @ Southgate House (Newport, KY)

kdealI felt like an out-of-touch old man when I overheard the bartender saying that tickets were still available and that they probably wouldn’t sell out. How did it come to this? With several hit singles and a platinum-plus album under their belt, the Breeders shouldn’t have difficulty selling out a venue that has a capacity of only five or six hundred. Maybe it wasn’t promoted well or maybe too many have forgotten about the band (despite releasing an album last year and a fresh, spanking EP a few months back), but they deserved better. Or else I can enjoy the intimacy of the raucous show and wear the ringing in my ears (that still hasn’t subsided after twenty-four hours) as a badge of honor.

times-new-vikingOpening the show was Times New Viking, who lived up to their “shitgaze” label with a rambunctiously slovenly quick set. The bass drum rattled the balcony and the guitar was a smear of distortion as they blasted through a series of two-minute tracks; any split second gaps were filled in by piercing keyboard tones. While they didn’t overshadow the main attraction, they did what any good opening band should—elevate the mood with ruthless efficiency (too bad the floor was only about a third full at that point). Only an awkward pause where guitarist Jared Phillips had to tune his guitar (which took roughly the amount of time a song of theirs lasts) hampered an otherwise solid performance.

The Breeders took the stage without a lot of fanfare, which emphasized the low-key embrace of their onstage charms. Kim Deal was all-grins most of the night, trading gentle barbs with twin sis Kelley off and on, waving giddily to people in the crowd, and punctuating nearly every song with a chipper “thanks!” But she was no dizzy dame when it came time to play; she began the night cracking hard on a single tom and then strapped on a guitar for most of the remainder, alternating between divine coos and zippy wails on the mic. The rest of the band matched her breezy energy, even when Jose Mendeles restlessly pounded an early drumbeat between songs. Even come-and-go third guitarist Cheryl Lyndsey managed a few heroic moments, including an impressively fast guitar flicker that pierced the crowd, and manhandling a loutish audience member who jumped on stage and began sloppily embracing the band members from behind.

breedersMaybe I was too close to the speakers, but the mostly relentless high volume stripped some of the more bittersweet and quirky numbers of their coyness (or was it just muddy acoustics?), but the band knew the temperature of the crowd and probably realized that slowing it down too much would have left most shifting in their sneakers. That’s precisely what happened when they took about five minutes late in their set to swap equipment and places with each other for the final lap; Kim repeatedly promised something “weird,” but the only weird element was the stilted shift between the show’s main course and the digestif—I trust these vets will iron out the kinks on future shows during the tour. At least they finished things off with a nice run through of “Drivin’ on 9.”

While the performance was mostly admirable and better, the energy level of the crowd was a little low. Small pockets of frantic revelers sprung up with frequency, but little more. The drunken catcalls of less-than-respectful audience members tainted the between-song intimacy for me (one stood just to my right), but nothing could ruin the genuine thrill of seeing a great band still touring—in this case, in support of their recent EP, Fate to Fatal. The setlist covered the band’s stop-start career well, including a few gems from Pod and a couple from the new release. Predictably, the most enthusiastic moment was reserved for the airing of “Cannonball,” which will never get old (believe me, I’ve tried to ruin it through relentless replay, but no luck). But most of the night’s flaws lay upon exterior forces and accidents; both bands delivered as promised and it was quite an enjoyable night.

Future Breeders shows for their quick August tour listed below:

8/08    Bottleneck — Lawrence, KS *   
8/09    Showdown — Omaha, NE *   
8/11    Fine Line Music Café — Minneapolis, MN **   
8/12    Majestic Theatre — Madison, WI **     
8/13    Metro — Chicago, IL **     
8/14    Crofoot Ballroom — Pontiac, MI **     
8/15    Lee's Place — Toronto, ONT  **    
8/17    Paradise Ballroom — Boston, MA **
8/18    Bowery Ballroom — New York, NY **
8/19    Bowery Ballroom — New York, NY **
8/21    Black Cat — Washington D.C. **
8/22    Diesel Club — Pittsburgh, PA **
8/23    Newport Music Hall — Columbus, OH **


* with Times New Viking
** with Whispertown 2000

Aug
08
2009
Matt Medlock

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