Vivian Girls live review from Nottingham Bodega Social on December 4th 2008. Looking around the room at people wrapped up more for an outdoor vacation somewhere like Alaska or at least on the blustery sea front of Blackpool immediately brings the notion of "wind" to mind, as in the one of change. It certainly seems to have affected tonight's opening act Nephu Huzzband, a Nottingham based four-piece who over the past year have morphed from the comfortable confines of Bunnymen/Chameleons-tinged post-punk (the riffs are still there, sporadically) to a spontaneous beast of Lovvers type proportions. Maybe it's a Nottingham thing, as singer Tom Bentley's enthusiastic and slightly manic forays into the front row are also eerily reminiscent of long gone but not forgotten local faves Seachange frontman Dan Easom. What they're lacking however is an identity of their own, both in presence and sound, but the signs are good that when that final discovery occurs, Nephu Huzzband have the potential to put themselves and this city back on the musical map.
Brooklyn's Vivian Girls have no such worries of course, either in a logistical or sonically orientated manner as to their origins or indeed future destination. Quite simply, what you see is what you get. Guitar? Check. Bass? Check. Drums? Check. Oh and did we forget to mention the three-headed medusa that simply slips between twee and obtuse vitriol at random between (and occasionally during) songs with random ease.
Their self-titled debut album has already created a tidal wave of interest on both sides of the Atlantic, and judging by the hearty reception on their first visit to Nottingham it seems they merely have to do little more than just turn up to win everyone over. Not that this is the case, of course; going through the motions simply isn't part of Vivian Girls (note the absence of "the") gameplan, and even when bass player Kickball Katy breaks a string mid-set, there's no fuss, no panic, just a discussion on Robin Hood and nouveau art paintings between band and audience while a member of Nephu Huzzband charitably donates his bass for the rest of the set.
Of course, the set. Well anyone familiar with the record would already know that Vivian Girls traverse the whole C86 ethic with a Stateside DIY philosophy that gives them a more widespread appeal (think The Rosehips being tarred and feathered by Calvin Johnson) meaning that their Amelia Fletcher-esque harmonies and sugar coated melodies often find themselves awash with a visceral noise the older statesmen of rock will tell you only boys should be allowed to make.
'All The Time' is rambustious Vaselines-edged pop-punk, while 'Damaged' and 'Tell The World' form the mid-point where Sonic Youth and The Ramones have a standoff, Alex Taylor and the Shop Assistants adjudicating, of course. There's even time for a two-minute run through of the Beach Boys 'Girls Don't Tell Me' that could quite easily be their epitaph if it wasn't for the fact that Vivian Girls are more about the fun than the fight.
Those Cheshire cat smiles last long into the night, which means their next venture on UK shores must surely come with a BMA seal of approval, as Vivian Girls are the perfect pick-me-up.
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