Real Live Action

Vivian Girls

with Abe Vigoda & White Lung
April 29 @ the Biltmore Cabaret

Review By Justin Langille

Vivian Girls and Abe Vigoda, two of America’s latest, greatest rock exports, had a hard time getting the crowd going at this Wednesday night gig.

Abe Vigoda guitarist Juan Velazquez called the crowd out on it half way through their set… sort of.

“If you put your thumb in your beer and shake it up and spray it all over us, that’s what we like,” Velazquez bantered, trying to break the ice after their fifth song. “That’s what we’re like in the States… freaky… and nasty. Freaky and nasty!”

Velazquez and his bandmates were the highlight of the night, tearing through song after song of up-tempo, angular guitar rock, soaked in reverb and played with enough unabashed charisma to make them look like they were performing for the second or third time. Nevertheless, most in the audience remained stationary on the dance floor or sitting in the couch-like booths of the Biltmore.  Sure, it was a Wednesday night, but this line up was filled with some seriously creative takes on the contemporary punk/garage-rock revivalist sound. Bodies should have been vibrating or thrashing accordingly.

Openers White Lung didn’t really help out the cause. While their set was tight and guitarist Natasha Reich shredded the shit out of her guitar parts, vocalist Mish Way sounded withdrawn, resulting in an awkward, forced kind of third-date chemistry with the crowd.

Halfway through their North American tour, Brooklyn’s Vivian Girls seemed a bit stiff, but they still brought the fire that they’ve been getting so much press for. Songs like “All the Time” and “Wild Eyes” sounded almost ethereal live, with guitar solos stretched out to folk-like time signatures and vocal harmonies honed to cacophonous perfection.
By the end of the night, Vivian Girls had warmed things up nicely by inviting significantly drunk portions of the audience onstage to dance and play horrible, impromptu tambourine to finishing numbers “Damaged” and “My Baby Wants Me Dead”.

The notorious lack of crowd participation at good rock shows in places like Vancouver and Toronto often seems like a mysterious, intangible problem, but it ain’t. Venues: drop your drink prices by a third and tell security to relax about letting performers and crowd mingle. I guarantee a 50 per cent increase in pure, uninhibited rocking out as a result.