Vivian Girls tonight!

September 30th, 2008 · 5 Comments · By

The Short Version: Vivian Girls are playing at Outback tonight. They’re fucking great! You should go see them.

More Details: I first heard them when they played at the Tea House last January, opening for Ultra Dolphins — actually, nobody had ever heard of them. I even got them mixed up with a shitty german art-school dance duo with the same name when promoting the show on this blog. It turns out that these Vivian Girls were actually three cute girls from Brooklyn who play messy, catchy, fuzzy garage pop songs, and I thought their set was absolutely wonderful.  I bought their demo CD — their drummer warned me “it’s just a demo” and felt bad for charging me $2 — and it was basically all I listened to for the next two weeks. I played their songs on the radio and put them on mix tapes and looked forward to the day when they might put out an album or play here again.

They sound a lot like the Aislers Set; they play jangly Ramones-lineage punk, but sloppier and with a sort of K Records ramshackle charm. There’s also a fair helping of distortion and a wall of fuzz, and heavily reverbed, bored-sounding girl-group-style vocals {when I was sound-checking at the Tea House show they told me “just turn the reverb all the way up on everything.”}. I would even compare them to the Shaggs, except that comparisons to the Shaggs are always interpreted as insults — OK, how’s this: they sound like the Shaggs learned how to play their instruments and somehow recorded Psychocandy on an 8-track in someone’s bedroom. They sound like the perfect C86 band, and there’s absolutely no reason for them to exist right now {while everyone else in the world is making freak-folk or minimal techno or black metal}, which is another thing that I like so much about them. When I first heard them play, it sounded like a breath of fresh air, like a reminder of all those great obscure indie-pop groups from the 80’s and 90’s that I missed out on because I was too young and dorky.

Except somehow now, 8 months later, the Vivian Girls have abruptly gotten super-famous. They are blowing up on college radio, and on those internet blog things, and apparently they are the talk of Brooklyn and are hanging out with Thurston, etc. Good for them!  They have a CD coming out now-ish {which includes all the songs from their demo, minus the Wipers cover}, and we can still see them at a crappy, smokey bar in our cozy little town tonight.  Don’t miss it.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 baconfat // Sep 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    i’m not THAT surprised at how big they’ve gotten given the recent rise in popularity by bands which might be construed as sharing an ethos of sorts: times new viking, psychedelic horseshit, home blitz, crystal stilts, blank dogs, atlas sound, and jay reatard. they’re all like the ben stiller/vince vaughan/wilson brothers/will ferrell/judd apatow of lo-fi right now.

    i might need to grab that wipers cover from you at some point

  • 2 James // Sep 30, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    so I’ve heard a grand total of… TWO of those bands. Does this mean I lose my credibility? Trick question! I have no credibility to begin with!

    re: the demo, I kind of actually like the demo versions of those songs better, in some ways… they have less bass but are soppier-sounding. maybe it’s just that I’ve heard the demo so often those versions sound “correct” to my ears.

  • 3 James // Oct 1, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Totally good show. Perhaps the most fun I’ve had in that smoky rat-hole of a venue. Tyvek (the openers) kind of kicked ass, and Vivian Girls were great.

    They were louder and heavier and tighter as a band, and sort of justified all those Ramones comparisons I made by ripping through a dozen 2min songs at a brisk pace. Too bad the sound guy had the vocals rather low, but you can’t have everything.

    They even did a Beach Boys cover: the criminally underrated “Girl Don’t Tell Me,” on which they changed up the arrangement enough to make the cover worthwhile, but avoided any of that lyrical gender reversal bullshit that mars many a cover. Astonishing fact: their bass player has somehow never heard the song “Wendy.” Well, she’s heard me embarrass myself by singing a few bars in order to clarify which song I was talking about, but that’s not quite the same thing.

    Anyhow the show was fun and ended early and we stuck around and danced to Motown songs with both bands until the DJ killed it by playing rhythmless 80’s hair rock. All in all, a fun show indeed.

  • 4 jon bray // Oct 1, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    yeah, that show was tight, son! I thought we were gonna hit up the party, but on the way the girls changed their mind and we ended up just chillin. i’m mildly in love with them now.

  • 5 James // Oct 2, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Yeah we ended up at a dramatically different afterparty where Andy-Jack and Max and I planned the future downfall of Charlotesville… Hopefully to be implemented tomorrow.

    Also, they’re… yeah, I gonna try not to embarass myself {on the internet}. I’ll just say those girls are great.