Concert Reviews

Last Night: Vivian Girls, True Widow and The Uptown Bums at The Cavern

Vivian Girls, True Widow, The Uptown Bums
The Cavern
October 15, 2009

Better Than: flying around in my mom and dad's homemade hot air balloon...

Vivian Girls started its first ever Dallas set Thursday night at the Cavern with a song consisting of four words: "Sound check one two."

Ah yes, the classic, beguiling sound-check song that has every hipster moving until they realize what's really going on. After about 20 seconds bassist Kickball Katy broke the song up by sweetly announcing, "You can hear us, but we can't hear you!"

All 100 or so audience members enthusiastically shouted back as they pressed up to the front of The Cavern's tiny stage.

This pretty much summed up the night: A bunch of people, strangers and friends, having fun together. Isn't that one of the foundations of punk? The hang? The scene? The crowd was raucous and nobody cared. People were shouting and laughing. Beer was being spilled, but it was all smiles. Everyone was there to have a good time and Vivian Girls seemed happy to facilitate such an event.

The Brooklyn-based all girl band blasted into its set with a wall of sound so thick you'd think Phil Spector was manning the soundboard. The blend of surf-punk and shoegaze Kickball Katy described as "Shitgaze" was extra droney. And the vocals were drenched in reverb, which strengthened the melodies, although it made the words difficult to hear. A handful of songs into the show, and The Cavern's sound system was tweaked perfectly for "Wild Eyes," which sounded just like the recording. Vivian Girls was starting to hit its stride, and so was the audience. A brief and subdued mosh pit formed about 20 minutes in as the three girls kept the songs coming, rapid-fire style.

The band ended its set with a sped-up version of its most popular song, "Tell the World," which featured a fierce extended jam in the middle. The girls swayed back and forth with their hair in their faces for the final seconds of an energetic set. But after that moment of rock, they were back to their friendly and sweet demeanor, greeting audience members as if they'd been friends for years. The set was short, totaling forty minutes, but seeing as Vivian Girls songs are rarely longer than three minutes, the band was still able to squeeze in most of its catalog.

Denton's The Uptown Bums opened up the show with a fun set of Bowie-esque punk, followed by Dallas' own True Widow. I thought True Widow was an odd choice as a support band, but the change-of-pace the band offered ended up being really nice, augmented the evening with some heavy, shoegaze riffs. Unfortunately, True Widow's sound had to be turned way down due to a neighborhood complaint.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I enjoy surf-punk as much as the next guy, but I'm maxed out after 40 minutes. Overall, it was a good show, and you can tell that Vivian Girls had it down to a T.

Random Note: The Uptown Bum's drummer was rocking a Britney Spears headset microphone, which was awesome in all of its nerdiness.

By the Way: Catch True Widow at the Doublewide Sunday Oct. 18. According to lead singer Dan Phillips, it's the band's last show before they go on a brief hiatus.

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Daniel Hopkins
Contact: Daniel Hopkins