Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vivian Girls @ The Smell - 2-22-2011 (with Austra, Catwalk and Cold Showers)- AH LIVE Review

 This review simulposted on LA Record
On Tuesday February 22nd at The Smell in Los Angeles, FYF gave us an amazingly line-up: Cold Showers, Catwalk, Austra, and Vivian Girls. This was Vivian Girls’ of Brooklyn’s first show in LA in over a year (according to Katy Goodman bassist/vocals), so the show was very crowded with devoted fans. The Smell usually offers 5 dollar shows, and since this one was going to be a quickly sold out show it was 8 dollars. I waited outside for about 20 minutes next to a dumpster that reeked of piss, and the doors opened right at 8:30 just like they said they would. 

Cold Showers got the night started a few minutes after 9, had a short set, and my immediate response to them saying “We’re Cold Showers” was “I like hot showers” in which my friend responded “taking this a bit too literal.” We enjoyed their very 80’s sound. They often gave me a Pixies or Joy Division feel, and I was pleasantly surprised since this was the first time I had heard them. Their songs were generally slow-paced and sort of quiet, but a few of them kicked in and got me dancing.

Next up was Catwalk, a three piece band of guys that are obviously very passionate about their music. The singer always had a very intense face, and the drummer looked like he was psyched to be there as he kept giggling and looking at his band mates. My favorite song they played was their second, “Please don’t break me.” They harmonized beautifully, with bass that was very complimentary to the guitar; not just following it but taking on its own sound. Catwalk followed Cold Showers wonderfully with that similar 80’s sound that we all adored. Another I really loved was their last song, “Baby Please,” which the singer really gave his passion in and they all ended their set happily which made us all feel good as well. This band was also new to me, and I was really overjoyed to have heard two new phenomenal bands whose shows I could now frequent.

The third band up was Austra, an electronic band from Toronto. This band was definitely 80’s reminiscent, but in a different way from the previous bands. It contained backtracking, keyboard, bass, drums, and the very powerful voice of Katie Stelmanis. My first impression was that their music was far more serious than fun and upbeat like the previous bands, and that Katie’s voice is very beautiful and has a lot of range. The song that stood out from their set was “Beat and The Pulse” which reminded me heavily of an Annie Lennox song. The bass was pulsating and strong, just like Katie’s voice. Being the complete opposite of serious, I felt a bit out of place with such serious music and attitudes of the band members. Yet I was definitely pleased at how talented all members are, and how catchy they had been; another band that I will keep tabs on.

And finally, the Smell suddenly got super crowded to the point where I could barely move. Vivian Girls quickly got on stage, and they started out with “Never See Me Again” from their first album Vivian Girls. This song is incredibly fast-paced, and the crowd was ecstatic about it and began moshing right away. Next was “Can’t Get Over You" from their second album Everything Goes Wrong, a song that gets stuck in your head very easily and also at a pace that had us dancing and moshing. They then played the slower 2nd track “I Heard You Say” from their new album due in April Share the Joy. I hadn’t heard this one yet, and I really liked Katy’s harmonizing backup. Another from Share the Joy, “The Other Girls” was played which is their first track off this album. This song is very playful, and guitarist/vocals Cassie Ramone sings with her out-of-tune-in-the-best-way-possible style. They followed with a track from their 1st, “Wild Eyes” which is my favorite song by them. It is very upbeat and catchy and embodies their noise. Next was “Lake House” from Share the Joy which has their common kick-snare-kick-snare drumbeat, and the addicting pairing of Cassie and Katy’s voices. They played a pattern of Share the Joy- Everything Goes Wrong- Share the Joy- Everything Goes Wrong with “Death,” “When I’m Gone,” “Sixteen Ways,” and “Survival.” “Death” reminds me of “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies because Cassie straight up talks in the beginning of it. “When I’m Gone” has an addicting drum beat, and “Sixteen Ways” is another new hit, and “Survival” an old favorite. They slowed things down with “Before I Start to Cry” from Everything, a song about “ex-boyfriends” and “love.” They played “Dance (If You Wanna)” from Share the Joy which reminds me of an Okmoniks type 60’s garage song. They came out for an encore that the moshers went crazy for and went back stage where I followed to talk to the current drummer Fiona Campbell about their superb set to finish off my FYF night at The Smell.

- Alyssa Holland

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