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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Vivian Girls may party harder than disco

This Saturday at 8p.m., Vivian Girls will add their name to the list of Pitchfork performers who later found their way to Gardner Lounge. The all-female, Brooklyn-based band has stirred an unusual excitement amongst students, which seems rooted in something deeper than the Girls’ burgeoning fame. Chair of the Concerts Committee, Alex Schechter ’10, attributes the widely felt anticipation for the show to the band’s unique mixing of genre and contagious intensity.

“They have an exciting energy,” Schechter said. “I didn’t think shoegaze and surf-rock were compatible, but they make it work.”

Vivian Girls’ eponymous debut album is unapologetically noisy and, at the same time, unobtrusively bashful. Somewhere, in the torrents of chaos, buried under the cacophony and feedback, is a small, melodious voice which wants both to be heard and not to interrupt. It’s heartbreaking in a way, but the Girls seem well-adjusted (especially for Brooklyn!) and by the end of each song their various indignations are shruggingly deferred a la Scarlet O’Hara—“After all, tomorrow’s another day.” The album isn’t all shoegazery though, as the uber-dancey final track “I Believe in Nothing” gleefully insists. Nihilism, an oft-quoted man once said, must be exhausting. For Vivian Girls—a trio of Dudettes, if I may—it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

The Girls’ sophomore effort, “Everything Goes Wrong,” features a higher level of cohesion and polish, as well as a more confident voice that, perhaps, can be attributed to the success of the first album. That being said, “Everything” still manages to retain that bizarre conflation of merriment and bleakness which has come to characterize the band. The punky, energetic “I Have No Fun,” for example, invites you to dance along to the lead singer’s unfortunate anhedonia. The swoony lamentation “Can’t Get Over You” seems like it could have been a Beach Boys song—“So c’mon baby stop the cheating/ because I can’t stop my heart from beating/ Uh huh-uh huh-uh huh-oh no/Just come on back to me baby/ The summer’s start is making me crazy.” Even at their most surf-rockiest, the Girls can’t take a break from some introspection and brutal self-honesty.

Vivian Girls’ influences, some obvious and some not, are eclectic to say the least: The Wipers, Nirvana, The Ramones, Crazy Horse and Burt Bacharach (who lead singer Cassie Ramone calls “the best songwriter ever.” Hm.) Having grown up in an affluent New Jersey suburb, bands like Blink 182 and NOFX also made their way into the Girls’ early musical consciousness. It was only after mistakenly stumbling on The Germs’ “Lexicon Devil” while surfing Napster that the seeds of hardcore punk were sown. And, if you’ve ever seen Vivian Girls live, you know those punk seeds are now in full bloom.
“The show will be raucous, fun and upbeat,” Schechter said. “They’re becoming a bigger name and people will be able to say, ‘I saw them at Grinnell.’ Also, I don’t know if you can write this, but we got a keg.”
Vivian Girls will be playing with Male Bonding in Gardner Lounge at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

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