Vivian Girls @ The Middle East

By: Kristin Jenko

Photo: Mark Jenko

Posted: June 2, 2009 – Boston, United States

What Vivian Girls lack in precision, they make up for with charisma and the duplicitous evocation of grunge and flirtation. They're rather like your girlfriend who crushes on bronzed, blond boys in surf trunks and hipster garage-rockers in tandem. There's no explaining it, but somehow it makes sense.

And somehow, in a cramped room with walls still sweating from the openers, the Brooklyn-based Girls – Cassie Ramone, Ali Koehler, and Kickball Katy outfitted in cardigans, skinny jeans, and plastic bangles – managed to romance their onlookers. They began by mingling in the crowd, and were eventually coerced to perform by the drummer, who donned a lavendar princess dress. The groove onstage: canvas boat shoes circa 1980 and a wall of fuzz that would make Phil Spector proud.

The line between harmonic droning and actual singing got muddier as the night wore on but fans seemed content to sway along. As the room grew hotter, the bassist beguiled them, blowing on her chest in an effort to cool off while tossing a mischievous look to the crowd.

Songs were short, loud, and louder, like their album of 21 minutes, the self-titled Vivian Girls, though clarity was sacrified for the live experience. Lyrics bled together, disonant and distorted, but Ramone poured obivous, if not verbally discernable emotion into the vocals. (Is it any coincidence that pre-show music piped into the venue featured The Ramones? Probably not.)The final number had the Girls swapping instruments, serving no real purpose except to send the crowd home swirling in their cacophonic haze. Which seemed to be exactly what they came for.


Photo: Mark Jenko

Video: "Tell The World" by Vivian Girls

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