Review: Vivian Girls at Great Scott

A sliver of summer in Allston
By MICHAEL C. WALSH  |  March 12, 2010

Photo: Erin Baldassari  

PHOTOS:Vivian Girls concert pics, by Erin Baldassari

Could there be a more appropriate soundtrack to this past weekend's premature taste of spring than a Vivian Girls show? Surf riffs and three-part harmonies galore reflect sunnier days ahead,  while a lo-fi chill lingers as a reminder that we're nowhere near beach-bound yet. The Brooklyn-bred post-punk outfit breezed into Great Scott on Monday, ripping through a brisk 40-minute set before resuming their current transatlantic trek and leaving us to bask in our pre-summer glow.

Despite adhering to their signature 3-minute song lengths and never deviating far from the studio versions, Vivian Girls were victorious in crafting a unique live sound that didn't completely mimic their recorded output. They've always honed a faded aura on their albums, but in concert, they opt for a reworked approach, with favorites like "Where Do You Run To" and "Wild Eyes" popping instead of slogging. The most appropriate descriptor may be "aggressively delicate." While they bobbed and chugged through their garage chords, they always seemed fully in control when it was time to step up to the mic, all three band members gloriously syncing the hooks that make their tunes distinct. Their effectiveness was also no doubt bolstered by Great Scott's sound system, which helped maintain their anthemic fuzz while remaining clean and loud.

The problem with the jaunty tracks was that right when the audience started to warm up, the band shut it down, much to the chagrin of the thinly populated pogo pit that worked the front of the stage for the entire show.

Two similarly abrupt sets from opening bands also did little to quell the end of the evening longing for more music. You Can Be A Wesley opened the night with their sprightly powerpop and immediately commanded the room's attention. The hometown group's core fan base was in full effect for what was a generally enthusiastic warm-up, complete with a confounding projection screen with wholly unnecessary psychedelic visuals. Less smooth was the performance by middle act Male Bonding, whose brash, erratic riffage succeeded in stunting any momentum heading into the Vivian Girls' set. Although Male Bonding didn't mesh with the evening's coastal vibe, if these recent Sub Pop signees continue to churn out EPs at their current clip, they're likely to draw an eventual buzz (if for no other reason than sheer market saturation).

And so while a return to the doldrums of March is inevitable, Monday night's luminously pleasant respite -- no matter how short-lived -- provided a necessary breath of warm air until we arrive at full-time shorts weather.
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