Live Review: The Vigils at The Redwood Bar

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Fernand Pimentel, Zoma Photography

The Vigils are one local band that really have that “It” factor. Thanks to an exciting stage presence and great songs with a nostalgic punk & Goth vibe, their next show is always something to look forward to. Maintaining “the spirit of ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, the attitude of ’70s punk, and the sensibility of the ’80s new romantics” (Facebook), The Vigils are singer Lord Daniel, bassist Sol Luongo, saxophonist Jessy Bender, drummer Skeeter Joplin, and new guitarist Bryan Diaz.

The group played The Redwood Bar (with the also good Electric Children) and the Old Towne Pub this past week, and I caught the downtown gig, where they had a typically enthusiastic group, dancing with Daniel and Luongo who frequently hopped off the stage. Wearing shades like Daniel, Bender played electrifying saxophone leads throughout the set, balancing out the group’s bass-heavy sound and deep vocals. “The Future is Now” (live clip) is a good example of this balance, with its dark verses that swell into an uplifting chorus. “The Outsiders” (live clip) is another dynamic song live – as Daniel introduces it, “This one’s for Johnny and all the other greasers” – starting off plaintive before jumping into pogo-ready verses and an anthemic chorus.

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Old Towne Pub – Robeto Buenrostro

I was also happy to hear my favorites, which are available on Bandcamp (along with several others): “October”, a Goth-y number with ominous drums and bass, haunting sax and spooky vocals, and “Night Flight” (older live clip), an upbeat, danceable song with an excellent bass line, jangly guitar and tour de force saxophone. The more guitar-driven “Cruel Highway” has morphed into a punk-country tune at the last few shows, which was a fun update, and “The Ballad of Tom Cody”, which references the 1984 cult film “Streets of Fire”, was another crowd-pleaser with its moaning vocals on the chorus.

The band plays next on Friday, April 8th, at the Blacklight District Lounge in Long Beach, but they’re sure to have another local show soon. Check them out if you get the chance!

Videos by Robeto Buenrostro

Simone Snaith

About Simone Snaith

Simone Snaith writes young adult and fantasy novels, and sings in the indie rock duo Turning Violet. A fan of scifi, fantasy, the supernatural and most things from the '80s, she enjoys reviewing music, books and movies. You can read about her own books at simonesnaith.com.
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