Wild Nothing / Abe Vigoda Wrongbar, Toronto ON February 17

Wild Nothing / Abe Vigoda Wrongbar, Toronto ON February 17
It's common knowledge that pop culture repeats itself, and in 2011, we have so far continued to rediscover the '80s anorak pop that sprouted from the lo-fi, English C86 and shoegaze scenes. Scores of indie bands are embracing a quiet, melodic, introspective and, in many cases, overtly emotional aesthetic, usually emanating from a singular personality.

Wild Nothing and their head wunderkind Jack Tatum are all these things and more. The songs he assembled for the project's 2010 debut, Gemini, are nothing if not the heartfelt work of a unique individual. However, thrust into the position of playing his precious compositions before a sedate if undemanding crowd, Tatum seemed utterly uncomfortable and out of sorts. While the songs of Gemini are played with diligent emotion and conviction, in a live setting, they were left wanting the nuances that reveal themselves on record.

That said, Tatum's awkwardness -- framed by a constant near-grimace and uncomfortable stage demeanour -- oddly seemed to work in the band's favour. The more introverted Tatum appeared, the more effort he put into using his guitar and massive rack of pedals as an emotional conduit. By the time the crowd-pleasing indie-beach mission statement "Summer Holiday" hit, Tatum's method all made sense in a weird way.

Co-headliners Abe Vigoda have moved from aping early '90s lo-fi to straight-up synth pop, but they managed to return to some of their darker roots. Their serviceable set was indicative of a band with fingers in numerous pies but few original ideas in the filling.