Live Review

Vivian Girls, The Magic Stick, Detroit

Punk rock roots. Check.

Punk rock roots. Check.

Fuzzy, sun blurred lo-fi sentiments. Check.

Hip trio of rocking femme fatales. Check.

Call Brooklyn home. Check.

Vivian Girls are pretty cool. They have all the credentials. Furthermore, they fit comfortably (though their music is often much quicker than their counterparts) into the wild, viral explosion of lo-fi dream pop acts singing about girlfriends (or boyfriends), and playing faux reminiscent music. That is, music that sounds like a time none of us were actually alive for, but rather we love to play in our basements over and over again anyway, because The Beatles never get old. Because R&B never gets old. We have no real stake in the movements this music derives from, but it is music of the highest caliber.

Why not imitate (and some might say reinvent) older musical genres? Why not imitate punk acts or 60’s power pop acts? It sounds like fun. It feels fun. And, hell, the Vivian Girls make it look fun. Their music sounds like a crashing wave against the shore and singer/guitarist Cassie Ramone moves like one. She head rocks (which seems it could be a jarring, if not painless act); she bows low to the ground splitting herself in half at the waist; she gets to her knees and solos. All these moves are common stock for rock n’ roll stars, but that doesn’t make them any less exciting or enthusiastic. Whatever, this band knows what it is doing.

The only real issue with their live set is volume control. Distortion heavy bands are more apt to run into problems such as these because it is easy for mic volumes to be overcome by guitar and bass or for one instrument to be weighted down too much by another. If the band want the crowd to know what it is trying to convey via lyrical ingenuity, it is an impossibility. Only the diehard fans that have memorized every song could hope to follow. It doesn’t remove the casual fan from the rattle and roll of the performance, per se, but it can be frustrating. Their vocal tensions, beyond the melodies alone, bring light to some of their more straightforward songs.

However, since the Vivian Girls are a band that is heavily distorted they probably don’t give a damn whether or not you can hear what they are saying. Like in their song ‘Out For the Sun’, which is laden by a persistent one-tap bass line, and a solo that goes faster and faster until eventually it becomes just sounds and scratchings; a noise bands wet dream. Or the more anthemic ‘Tension’, where in the chorus the melody lines work more to offset the slightly wrong, slightly out of key guitar work (and not wrong in a negative way, but in an intentional way to create their ‘Tension’).

Vivian Girls get the job done, and because their ethos seems to be “Shut up and rock” being at their show isn’t a matter of getting off, but just being there in the first place.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

April 2024

With Bob Vylan, St Vincent, girl in red, Lizzy McAlpine and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY