Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Vivisectors at Otto’s, NYC 3/26/10

The Vivisectors play surf rock instrumental versions of traditional Russian prison songs that were banned by the Soviet regime. The band grimly calls them “gulag tunes.” This was their second US tour – hopefully there will be more of them. Mike Vivisector, the band’s hulking, bearded guitarist didn’t move around much but his fingers did, firing off twangy Ventures single-note runs, a little furious Dick Dale temolo picking and even some tersely psychedelic blues licks. His drummer cleverly added touches that an American surf band would probably never use, whether it be a fast hardcore 2/4 stomp on one of their go-go numbers or riding his hi-hat for a bizarre disco beat that worked like a charm and got several people in the crowd dancing. The sub bassist brought a jazz player’s touch and fluidity to the songs, making his one solo of the night count with a determined, foreboding series of descending riffs that made a launching pad for similarly understated guitar fireworks. The band loves their dark, menacing chromatic riffs, doing them surf-style along with a couple of rockabillyish numbers, two bouncy go-go tunes and a song that sounded like either Blue Oyster Cult covering Link Wray, or Link Wray attempting a boogie. That one featured a guest trumpeter with an equally good handle on gypsyish, chromatic melodies – and a blazing take of Hava Nagila for part of another. They sped up a couple of the straight-up surf tunes, one with the Hall of the Mountain King quote that ELO and the Who used to rock out on; the last song of the set featured an extended quote from Those Were the Days. It’s surprising that nobody’s used that for a surf song before – or maybe they have, in Russia, where there is a thriving surf scene (where is there NOT a thriving surf scene – the North Pole? You could ask the tireless Unsteady Freddie, who booked the band this time around. When there’s surf music in New York, he’s usually involved in one way or another). They did a slow version of Misirlou that was as original – in both senses of the word – as the one that Magges does; their version of Pipeline was amped with a casually ferocious tremolo-picked jam on the second verse. But their originals were the best. Some wouldn’t have been out of place in early Black Sabbath if they’d been slower, others fluctuating eerily between minor and major. The band let their US booking agent, Deb Noble of Blue Stingraye Productions, and her enthusiasm was contagious: hopefully the band will be back for another tour at some point.

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March 28, 2010 - Posted by | concert, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, rock music

1 Comment »

  1. Mike Vivisector and I traded each other copies of our Bands’ CD’s a few years ago, and I was mightily impressed with how close they were able to come with their Russian roots music, to the sound of traditional
    Amero-Surf. It’s great to see them getting more acknowledgment – They certainly have earned it!

    Comment by Bruce D/Longboard Ranch | March 29, 2010 | Reply


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