Love is All | Vivian Girls | Nodzzz at Nectar, Seattle – 23 November 2008
The Nodzzz with their Clean sound that harks back to 80’s New Zealand, the Vivian Girls who have a lot in common with C-86 UK scene and Love is All with their 80’s John Hugh’s revival sound made for a night of reliving the alternative sounds of the 1980’s
Starting off the night night to a few curious onlookers, the Bay Area’s Nodzzz started their set by hurling insults at the sound guy, complaining that they couldn’t drink on stage (this was a recurring theme throughout the night) and attempting to play a bass that was out of tune. It was a recipe for disaster, but the trio dumped the bass and picked up another guitar and promptly began their noisy bone-ratteling set of kiwi pop influenced garage rock. Both guitarists trading vocals back and forth on thier short catchy songs made for a super fun set that won me over after the first song. I’m glad there are so many bands that are carrying the torch of Flying Nun these days with likes of the Box Elders, Surf City and the Nodzz it seems that finally the influence of that little scene from the 80’s is finally starting to get some attention! The band have just released their first album, vinyl only that is well worth picking up.
mp3: Nodzz – Is She There (from the new record)
Back in May of this year the Vivian Girls played to a handful of punters at the Funhouse here in Seattle. That night, the Girls seemed a bit nervous as they waited on stage as the sound guy fiddled with the reverb. The songs were played really fast with Katie and then drummer Frankie switching instruments mid set. It was over nearly as soon as it began. What a difference a few months make. The Vivian Girls are darlings of the press, beguiling people with their combined love of punk rock , Shangri-Las fatalism and C-86 aesthetics. By the time Vivian Girls hit the stage the place was full with everyone anxiously waiting to see if they would live up to the hype. With the reverb and sound stuff worked out in advance this time, the Vivian Girls started their set to the smell of watermelon bubblegum. Apparently the sound guy that the Nodzzz were berating likes to chew watermelon gum and the smell was overpowering. Someone next to me offered the girls a piece but they confessed to not being able to chew gum and sing at the same time. I heard someone say “I like them already”. Me too I thought, but more because they’ve put out a great album and a slew of really good singles. The pace of the songs was more measured last night. This allowed Cassie’s guitar solos to really shined through. The band’s original drummer Frankie left to join the Crystal Stilts a few month back and her harmonies were missed a little, but new drummer Ali didn’t miss a beat and bassist Katie took over the harmonies that Frankie provided last time around. My only complaint about the set was that they left out a couple of my favourite songs. The excellent Where Do You Run and the equally good My Baby Wants Me Dead didn’t get played. We did get a couple new ones though, both from their new single (just released) one of which was a cover of the Beach Boys’ Girl Don’t Tell Me. It reminded me of the Heartworms (Archie Moore of Velocity Girl) doing the same song on their Space Escapade album back in 1995. Good songs which the Vivian Girls have in spades don’t go out of style.
mp3: Vivian Girls – My Baby Wants Me Dead (from the sold out Wild Eyes 7″. MP3 coutesy of GvsB)
You can get their brand new single, the one with the Beach Boys cover which comes with a t-shirt and a badge direct from the band.
(bonus) mp3: Heartworms – Girl Don’t Tell Me (Beach Boys cover from Space Escapade)
With all the exitement of the Nodzzz and Vivian Girls it was easy to forget that Sweden’s Love is All were actually the headliners last night. I’ve said this before about certain 80’s revivalists, I have a hard time getting into bands resurrecting the sounds of marginal bands from that time period. When it comes to Love is All I can’t get Oingo Boingo and Altered Images out of my head. There seem to be sounds that never go out of style, at least to me, as is evidenced in me liking the Nodzzz and Vivian Girls, but Love is All have this hyper spastic thing going that seems to be derrived from the (English) Beat’s March of the Swivleheads. It’s fun and you can dance to it, but it starts to sound the same and becomes a bit much after a while. Singer Josephine Olausson was a ball of energy and funny too. At one point she wanted to see if the mic chord could reach off stage so that she could have a drink (since you can’t drink on stage in puritan Seattle). She was successfull much to the delight of her bandmates and the audience. Their cover of Flock of Seagulls’ I Ran was, how shall I say it, a bit much though. They were also selling a 12″ that contained that Flock of Seagulls song as well as 4 other covers including Prince’s Darling Nikki. Love is All were fun, but not really my thing.
A bunch more photos from the night are over at my flickr page.