Saturday, 16 February 2013

Live review: Vivian Girls / Widowspeak / Eternal Summers / Heliotropes

When Converse Rubber Tracks Live announced another of their free shows at Music Hall Williamsburg, my heart raced. I'd seen Vivian Girls play a very short set almost exactly a year ago (10th of Feb 2012) at Gansevoort Plaza, possibly the only show I've been to where it snowed! Anyway, I was over the moon at the chance to see them play a full set and was even more determined to be on the ball and get tickets for this show since we missed the last one converse put on, featuring King Tuff and Metz!

First up was Heliotropes, I'd heard the name many times but had not gotten round to listening to their music. They play a blend of 70s-inspired doom/desert rock. Guitarist/vocalist Jessica Numsuwankijul blazes through some good solos to complement the riffs and they have an album due in April which should be worth keeping an ear out for. If I were being critical, the additional percussionist could do with a bit of variation, too much tamborine!

Next up were Eternal Summers, who I saw twice in 2012, once at a free outdoor show at Fulton Street and also supporting Nada Surf at the Bowery Ballroom. They always put on a good set and coming off the back of 2012's fine record, Correct Behaviour, are due to enter the recording studio for a follow-up very soon, so we got plenty of new material (some of which I recognised from the other shows), which sounded very promising.

Eternal Summers
Next up was Widowspeak, this was also the third time I had seen them (technically the first band I ever saw in NYC as they were the support act for Dum Dum Girls), and while I like their recorded output, they are a frustrating live band. Singer Molly Hamilton has a lovely Mazzy Star-like wistful vocal but is drowned out by the lead guitarist, who also comes across as a bit of a poser and seems at odds with the music. If they toned the other instruments down and notched Molly's vocals up they be greatly improved in my opinion (basically, to how they sound like on record).

Finally, Vivian Girls took to the stage and rattled through one of the most fun sets I've ever seen, they have the perfect mix of intensity, positive attitude and most importantly (for most bands seem unable to marry all these qualities), they are backed up by having great songs.

If you ever get a chance to see them play, you would be a fool not to. Leaving the occasional pause in between songs to interact with the audience and catch their breath, re-tuning is an option! The set covered songs from their three records and the night would have been close to perfect if they had played my favourite song, Can't Get Over You, but I'll gladly settle for it being the best show I've seen so far this year and one that will certainly take some beating! I just don't know how anyone could not have a good time at a Vivian Girls show.

I recorded The End, it's a crappy video (for a start I was watching them, not my camera, and secondly the camera is too close to the stage monitor) but it captures the vibe.

And just for good measure, I met Katy Goodman at the show I mentioned last year and it gives me a chance to post the picture:

And as a PPS, I saw Cassie Ramone do a short solo set the night before supporting Total Slacker at Webster Hall Studio (Katy was in the audience and I was too chicken to talk to her). Check out her 7" split with Hunx.


  1. I was at the show - I think you thought widowspeak's lead guitar was too loud because you were standing right in front of it (also the case for your desire of less from the tambourine player in heliotropes, she was literally shaking it in your ear). I'm surprised you didn't think every band's amps were too loud from where you were standing.
    All of the bands sounded great from the balcony (I was standing right above the soundboard where you can actually hear the mix)...

  2. That would be a fair comment, but like I said, I've seen Widowspeak 3 times and it has been the case every time, no matter where I've stood :)

    1. And wrt Heliotropes, I mean the variation of the percussion, the tamborine was just hit every time the snare was hit, it gets a bit boring. I mean, get a shaker or something else for a song!

    2. I think you were close enough to scare the band Chris.


  3. Agreed on Widowspeak's live show. That pic with Katy was at Gansevoort Plaza? I thought that was an outdoor venue. Anyway, you should've talked with her the other night as she's really nice. I can only imagine how good VG sounded at MHOW. Thanks for posting the review and the pics.

    1. Yep the pic is from the outdoor show, they had some kind of fashion truck which we're outside of. I should have talked to her but my teenage crush would probably have been too apparent! Hopefully next time, I wanted to tell her that Sees the Light was my favourite release of 2012!