Concert Review

Vivian Girls at Modified Arts

The Vivs sweet brand of Motown girl group pop shoved through a pure punk filter, a sort of freaked out Bangles sound, blared through Modified Arts last night. Reverb-ed vocals left the Urban Outfitted trio's harmonies sounding like calls from the bottom of a well, and, humorously, made between song banter all but utterly incomprehensible. "There's some reverb for ya," bassist Kickball Katy joked.

Ramone rested her upper lip on her mic as she channeled her best Mary Weiss and espoused songs mostly about love, and all the problems that accompany it's coming and going. Both Ramone and Katy fell into sync so seamlessly, both apparent fellow graduates of the Kim Deal school of leftover vocals. In the background, drummer Ali Koehler punched out tenacious beats worthy of first wavers' respect.

Keeping the set tight, the Vivs served up their specialty: short songs with simple lyrics and hummable melodies free of fuss and musical intricacy. As mentioned in a preview to this gig, it would seem that Vivian Girls are coming into their own, specifically with regard to their new record, and giving themselves a bit more space to enjoy what they do best.

Downtown's indie rock mecca hosted Vivian Girls on their last go-round
in Phoenix, and the improvements in their live set were gashes beyond
what this reviewer was expecting. What were unhinged vocals with
missing clarity have now become harmonies that still achieve a raw
edge, but actually sound prepared. Stage presence also developed over
the course of a few seasons, with a far more comfortable vibe coming
from the band.

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Vivian Girls, The Pods and Chandails at Modified Arts

Better than: P.O.D. at Modified Arts

Personal Bias: I'm not crazy in love the Vivs. I think they're all talented enough, and I do enjoy their music, but sometimes I'm not too sure of the substance there. I cannot entirely pinpoint where this feeling comes from, but, eh, there's my personal bias for you.

Random Fact: Vivian Girls got their name from Henry Darger's In the Realms of the Unreal.

Further listening: An ode to our homeland, "The Desert."



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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski