Vivian Girls are “At It Again” at ONCE Ballroom

by Michael Cambron

 

Vivian Girls, the 3 piece indie rock trio comprised of guitarist/lead vocalist Cassie Ramone, bassist “Kickball Katie” Goodman, as well drummer Ali Koehler, is quite frankly one of the most important bands of the 21st century. After releasing their self-titled debut to critical acclaim in 2008, the reception to their follow up records Everything Goes Wrong and Share The Joy was less than enthusiastic. 

Vivian Girls became an easy target for critics and internet trolls alike, who derided its members instrumental prowess. This, combined with textbook internet and industry sexism, led to their break-up in 2014. Now, with their reunion and the release of their new record Memory, Vivian Girls are back–and better than ever. 

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Seeing the Vivian Girls return to the spotlight after so long was simultaneously a huge deal and a not-so-huge deal. It was almost like seeing old friends getting the band back together after lightly protesting. A weird sentiment to have, especially considering the Vivian Girls are indie legends, and that I am not friends with any of its members whatsoever. 

Nostalgia for the past and future was the emotion that colored the show. From their ramshackle breakout single “Wild Eyes” to newer hits like the bright, surfy “Sick” and “Sludge,” which sounds almost exactly like the title suggests, even throwing in a Jay Reatard cover of “My Shadow,” the Vivian Girls faithfully brought their creations to life. Though bassist Katy Goodman seemed to introduce new tracks almost apologetically, fans of all ages were nodding and grooving along throughout the entire set. 

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Each member of the band was on point as well. Ramone’s characteristically flat, unaffected yet emotionally resonant vocal tone matched the vibe of the group’s records perfectly, and bounced off of her ridiculously catchy riffs. Her performance on the Everything Goes Wrong closer “Before I Start To Cry” was especially poignant.

 Goodman stole the show at points, strutting around the stage as she carried the low end of the tunes. One of my favorite deep cuts from Memory, “I’m Far Away,” absolutely popped OFF, the live setting allowing Goodman’s funky bass riff to hit even harder than it already did, which I didn’t even think was possible. 

The contributions of drummer Ali Koehler cannot be overstated either. I was crossing my fingers hoping that they would bring out the fantastic “Tell The World” from their self titled record. I was losing hope as the show went on, but was absolutely ecstatic when they decided to close out the show with it! Koehler demolished the drum breakdown, bringing the house (ballroom?) down as a sendoff. 

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Anyone who has ever had any suspicions about the prowess of the Vivian Girls would have had those doubts quelled after seeing them live. With a no fuss, all fuzz performance, Vivian Girls have cemented their place in the indie rock canon as the legends they are. 

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