Tom Vek – Leisure Seizure

So yes, Tom Vek has been MIA for five years, bla bla bla… We can skip the story of his long, mysterious absence from the airwaves to get to what’s important: he’s back and still kicking butt.

His newest album, Leisure Seizure, which is already available digitally but will only get a physical release on September 13th, kept the essence of what made his first album special but polished it, making his sound more coherent. We’re far from the lo-fi vibe of We Have Sound, but that doesn’t mean Vek’s taken away what was gritty and interesting about his music; the better quality of the production actually makes all the subtleties of his arrangements shine through more distinctly.

We Have Sound played a lot with dissonance and Leisure Seizure is no different. From the electronic loops he integrates in his songs to flat tone of voice when he sings, he manages to find the right balance to make all his seemingly cacophonous elements fit together in a pleasing manner. “World of Doubt,” with its pounding drum, clashing guitar riffs and almost spoken lyrics is a perfect example of that skill.

“We Do Nothing” is like a condensed mix of all the good things from his first LP. There’s a little bit of “C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)” in it, some “Nothing But Green Lights” mixed in as well, which is a nice indicator that Vek’s taken all the years since We Have Sound listening back to the songs to synthesize the best things from his first album and build on them.

What he’s gotten really good at is creating a really hypnotizing ambient mood in his songs, no matter how slow or upbeat they are. You hear it as much in the single “A Chore” or the electronic “Close Mic’ed,” which both succeed in how repetition is used to move the song forward rather than become boring and redundant; it’s quite a feat.

All in all, Leisure Seizure is bigger and bolder than We Have Sound was. It’s more mature but it’s also more danceable. Tom Vek is definitely forgiven for having made everyone wait so long for this sophomore release.

Tom Vek @ Union Pool, July 13th 2011

It was Tom Vek’s second night playing in New York City and even though I was not at his Mercury Lounge concert, I can assure you the vibe at Union Pool had to be drastically different. It had rained that day, the temperature had cooled down a little… A nice evening outside sipping drinks in the bar’s outdoor courtyard right by the BQE must have given the audience a better disposition to rock out. I like to think so.
But before we could see Mr. Vek, we heard Cookies, “a band from New York City specializing in popular music” as they say on their website. A trio of multi-tasking musicians, they played a short set of danceable electro-pop songs, under the watchful eye of the headliner himself. Audience was a bit shy during the set, leaving a wide safety distance between the small stage and the first row. Still, the way the band mixed electronics with their instruments seemed like a fitting match and an appropriate lead-in for Vek. The set only got better as it went along; by the end, ears were warmed up, necks were a bit looser and the room was packed.

When Tom Vek steps out onto the stage, it’s hard to imagine he is actually as animated a performer as he is. With his new perfectly combed and sculpted hair, thick-rimmed black glasses, white t-shirt, jeans and tan lace-up boots, he seems very unassuming and calm. But once the music starts, the shift is immediate; he’s in it.

The set opened with “Hold Your Hand” off his new record, Leisure Seizure. The bass could have burst your chest open and the music immediately filled up the entirety of the cozy venue. As he plays, Vek sways and swings with the music, marking every drum break, every moment a new electronic sample is introduced with some part of his body, even moving his hand next to the microphone according to the tune he is singing.

Performing a nice balance of songs from his new album and songs from his first LP We Have Sound, Vek switched between playing bass and guitar. Hearing the song “C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)” showed just how powerful the marriage of two bass guitars and sharp drumming can be. “World of Doubt,” off his new release, took on even more grit and toughness live than on the recorded version.

The band was having fun on stage and so was the crowd. The audience’s appreciative head-bobbing quickly escalated to full-on dancing, with some concert goers up by the stage almost looking like they were in a trance. Vek isn’t too much into funny banter between songs but he did stop to thank everyone present for coming out several times and even complimented the venue (which was indeed very cute).

The set was tight and never felt like it was dying down, even during the slower songs. The last two songs were the first single off the new album, “A Chore” and the harsh “A.P.O.L.O.G.Y,” before which he thanked the opening band Cookies and his band mates. Sadly, there was no encore, but after such an electrifying set, our ears were bound to be ringing with the sound of his beat rock tunes for a while.

Setlist:

1. Hold Your Hand

2. We Do Nothing

3. C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)

4. World of Doubt

5. If You Want

6. Someone Loves You

7. Nothing But Green Lights

8. Aroused

9. I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes

10. Seizemic

11. A Chore

12. A.P.O.L.O.G.Y.