The Vivian Girls played a rare show February 15 at Music Hall of Williamsburg. They hadn’t performed in NYC since last year, in the freezing cold, at a Kate Spade pop-up shop in the meat packing district. The free show, put on by Converse Rubber Tracks, was sold out pretty quickly. Unfortunately, my ticket hookup fell through at the last minute and I only had 2 hours to secure entry. I reached out to Katy Goodman and Cassie Ramone on Twitter, who hooked me up with a ticket and a photo pass. About 30 minutes later, I heard from Robert Earl Thomas of Widowspeak, who also offered to help out. Good to have friends in high places.
First off, I can’t recall the last time that I saw a show where I was excited to see every band on the bill. Generally, I’m not in love with the idea of seeing four or more bands in one night, unless they’re all good. Three bands is my sweet spot, but tonight was great and didn’t drag.
Heliotropes, who I first saw at a Free Pussy Riot benefit at Death By Audio, are getting a lot of well-deserved buzz of late. They even initiated a Kickstarter so they could buy a van and head out on their first tour (which was fully funded. Congrats, ladies).
Next up was Eternal Summers, a band that I’ve seen so many times that when they start playing a new song, I feel like I’ve heard it 2 or 3 times already. Seeing Nicole Yun shredding on guitar gives me goosebumps. I’m crossing my fingers that their new album will feature more kick-ass guitar work. Later this spring, they are touring with The Presidents of the United States of America, who I haven’t seen live since they played Roseland Ballroom waaaay back in 1996.
The best way to describe Widowspeak is indie adult contemporary, and, truth be told, it’s the kind of music I’ve been gravitating to lately — Rob’s twangy guitars mixed with Molly Hamilton’s shimmering voice. Love it. Their new album Almanac was released in January.
The Vivian Girls were in prime form. Of all the bands that night, they looked like they were having the most fun. And, yes, I realize that they played “I Have No Fun,” but that’s besides the point. As a unit, they were intense, confident, and very much in control. They were as fiery as Katy Goodman’s red locks and bass playing. Cassie Ramone was so aggressive on vocals and guitar. Oh, and drummer Ali Koehler is officially back in the band. Yay! Ali played with VG back in July and August of last year, but I wasn’t sure if it was permanent.
After they left the stage, they stood in the stairwell and debated whether they should play an encore, asking me if I thought the crowd “wanted it.” I opened the stage door and the audience cheered, expecting to see the band. “They want it,” I said. And they proceeded back to the stage to play “No.” You’re welcome, everybody.
So, if you missed Vivian Girls (and yes, we all miss them when they are gone) there’s good news. Look for them to play NYC later this summer. They’ll probably do a Bowery show, but I would kill to see them tear shit up at Death By Audio.
Vivian Girls put on an impressive set and the best I’ve seen so far, this year. Yes, it’s only February, but I can tell you that this show will easily make my Top Ten favorites.