all words: Andy Hess
all photos: Julian Vu
Vivian Girls Setlist:
Tell the World, Vanish (New Song 1), Wild Eyes, Trying (New Song 2), All The Time, Light (New Song 3), Dance (New Song 4), Lake House, The Other Girls (New Song 5), When I’m Gone, Out For the Sun, Never See Me Again // Before I Start to Cry, Second Date
Last time I saw the Vivian Girls it was in a cramped basement in Maryland and this time it was in the cramped back room of Comet Ping Pong. But size of the venue doesn’t matter when you have a band that has perfected the 2-minute noise-pop song like the Brooklyn trio.
Using Sunday night as the place to showcase mostly new material — they played five new songs — while cherry picking highlights from their two full lengths the Vivian Girls were exceptional. Even without playing standouts “Where Do You Run To”, “Can’t Get Over You” or “Moped Girls”, the blistering 15-song set showed a band playing what they know how to do best and trying some new things that worked surprisingly well.
The band’s new drummer, Fiona (from Coasting), was the new secret weapon for the band in this set. She picks up where Ali Koehler (now in Best Coast) left off and rounds out the band’s sound.
This is especially true on the new material like “Trying” that has a nice gallop and bass line that reminded a lot of the second half of “Richard II” from Titus Andronicus’ great record The Monitor (Cassie Ramone landed a speaking role on the album). Another new song, “The Other Girls”, sounds like Ramone’s take on a Rivers Cuomo track from Pinkerton where she laments on how she doesn’t want to be like, you guessed it, the other girls.
Closing out the night with a song I wasn’t expecting to hear — “Second Date” from their Surf’s Up 7″ — and a deep cut from Everything Goes Wrong, the Vivian Girls used a one-off show to showcase what’s shaping up to be some of their best songs yet. The only problem is that we have to wait for them to record.
The middle card and D.C.’s own Brett and the Whispers should have opened the show. With a bluesy sound that reminded me of The Black Keys, Brett and the Whispers killed the momentum after following a blistering set by Nashville’s Heavy Cream. Nothing against them, but it’s hard to follow a band with that much energy. Would I see Brett and the Whispers again? Probably, but they needed to be paired with another act.
If I had an award to give to best opener I’ve seen in a while, it would be Heavy Cream. They managed to take paint-by-numbers garage rock and get by on pure energy. With their set dedicated to their album Danny — that comes out today — the band ripped through 12 songs in 20 minutes without stopping to chat until they were through. I’m fine without the banter since it’s usually awkward and people just go back to drinking their beer, but they could of played another 15 minutes and I don’t think anyone would have said a thing bad about them.