Vivian Girls - XOYO - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Vivian Girls - XOYO

by Darren Loucaides Rating: Release Date:

Vivian Girls have to contend with a lacklustre atmosphere tonight. The XOYO - maybe too 'venue' for bands of this size - is packed, yet the youngish self-conscious crowd seem oddly subdued. When the Brooklyn trio enter the stage led by warmly energetic bassist Katy Goodman, no cheer goes up. She says "Hey!" twice to a muted response, and finally has to cry "Hello-o everyone!" with slight sarcasm to extract any real reaction. Unperturbed, waifish lead singer Cassie Ramone subjects her guitar to a few discordant thrashes invoking answers if not from the crowd then from her bandmates' instruments…and with no further ado they burst into 'Never See Me Again', from their self-titled debut album, played at blistering pace.

'Kickball Katy' is very much the cheerleader - the smile never leaves her face, she's constantly jumping back and forth, bouncing about, engaging the crowd. Her basslines aren't complex but, played with precision and intensity, they're crucial, roping the sloppy reverb-drenched guitar to the steam-train-drums.

The first part of the set leans more on newer songs from Share the Joy, released this April, about which there's a more searching, ponderous feel compared with earlier material. As the set progresses, though, and we hear older, tighter numbers like 'I Have No Fun' and 'When I'm Gone', the storm begins to gather, reaching the ferocious crescendo of 'Survival'. There's a brief respite when the shattered, strummed chords of 'Before I Start to Cry' roll out to a silenced crowd; Cassie drones out the lyrics as though her heart's breaking in front of us; and when, halfway through, she stomps on a pedal and the guitar roars around us, it's as though we can feel the downpour of her utter despair drenching us.

Tears are wiped, though, and soon the sharp-cornered frontgirl is snarling into the mic again for 'Tell the World', played frantically. I'm sure she's like this every night, but it's as though Cassie has just been dumped, cheated on, shot at... She gives Vivian Girls a hard, immutable core that doesn't come through on record as anywhere near so formidable, so wounded, yet so tough. On last song 'Out for the Sun', her voice seems to be cracking up with emotion, and as Katy ventures into the crowd, she collapses into a ball behind her amp, writhes on the floor, turns the volume up, and seeks catharsis in the noise. The crowd don't seem to dig this as much as me, but I'm not sure she's doing it for them.

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Great review

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