Bumbershoot Preview: Vivian Girls

by Chris Estey

Scheduled to take the Broad Street Stage on Sunday, September 6, at the pleasantly early hour of 6 PM, it would seem Bumbershoot knows how much fun the Vivian Girls will be for the all ages crowd. With a new album, Everything Goes Wrong, just coming out on In The Red, there will be plenty of great new songs for acolytes and admirers of their poppier debut and rock civilians compelled to watch for the first time. I predict a smash-up in the collection of witnesses and an increase in the fan-count.

Because in the dense, torqued anthems of the sophomore release there is a line back to the tormented relational discharges of Husker Du at their 80s hardcore prime. Vivian Girls are a cult band but that doesn’t mean they’re a barely competent femme-Ramones. In spite of appropriately non-chalant vocals, the fuck shit up jams of Bob Mould and Grant Hart can especially be heard in cinematic narratives like “The End” (“At the end of rainy days... turn away ‘cos this is it”) and “When I’m Gone,” the latter sunny-sounding to the point of emotional heat-stroke.

I doubt they’ll be bringing a sax player along to help out with the No Wave/post-punk Laura Logic-style “Tension,” but I’m hoping they play that song anyways, as it rumbles alongside the best of band’s like Kleenex/Lilliput in creating a distinctively different kind of (what else?) tension. For casual listeners who write this work off as just another updating of Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and the other Ramones, or putting them in outsider art Shaggs territory, take a listen to the complicated chorus and bridge construction on “Double Vision” on Everything Goes Wrong -- a lot of your favorite New Wave bands weren’t that tricky and sure aren’t that punk.

The thirteen track Everything Goes Wrong will be in the stores on September 14th, but if you catch them that early evening at Bumbershoot, I have the feeling you’ll already have many of its songs memorized, floating in the back of your brain before you actually buy the album. I also have the feeling you will.

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