Weird at My School: Vivian Girls

by DJ El Toro

An inordinate amount of editorial coverage concerning New York three-piece the Vivian Girls feels like, to paraphrase the Children’s Television Workshop, it is “brought to you by the letters S and H.” The Shaggs, the Shangri-Las, and the Shop Assistants all feature heavily in the comparisons. To that list, I’d add “shambolic,” and I mean that as a compliment. The Girls’ show last night at Nectar Lounge was completely unpretentious: “You are too kind,” insisted guitarist Cassie Ramone (pictured) at the first wave of applause. They ran through much of their self-titled debut — but not, alas, the moody “Where Do You Run To” — in brisk fashion, yet also premiered new material, including their cover of the Beach Boys’ “Girl Don’t Tell Me” from the new Surf’s Up EP (available here), which indicates they definitely have a second LP in them. And judging from the extended instrumental workout that closed the set, they may even expand their cheery garage rock sound on that hoped-for sophomore full-length.

But the big surprise, for me, was Love Is All. Except for the incredibly catchy “Wishing Well,” their A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night album hadn’t blown me away. My mistake. Live, the Swedish quintet was freakin’ adorable, ripping through songs with a mix of professional polish and jubilant silliness that smacked of a cross between X-Ray Spex and Gruppo Sportivo. As a child of the ’80s, I am naturally very wary of the saxophone — but James Ausfahrt (pictured below) had me grinning like an idiot with his rudimentary yet enthusiastic playing. They even made room in the set for a version of “I Ran” by A Flock Of Seagulls, one of five covers featured on their limited edition tour EPs, each of which came with a different hand-drawn sleeve. Other selections include “Kung Fu on the Internet,” originally by Lung Leg, Prince’s “Darling Nikki” (which you can preview on their MySpace page), and “So Far Away” by Dire Straits” — apparently I’m not the only child of the ’80s.

DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column, Weird At My School, appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog.

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One Comment

  1. Asa
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I’m really upset with myself for missing this show, I like both bands a lot and was looking forward to it.

    Damn you, social anxiety/fremont-phobia!

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