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Monday, July 16, 2012

Show Review: Three Nights At The Con Vivian Girls, Grass Widow, The Babies, Dunes & Teenage Burritos

Show Review:
Three Nights At The Con
Vivian Girls,
Grass Widow,
The Babies,
& Teenage Burritos
@ The Casbah, San Diego, CA.
Presented by The Casbah & Impose, curated by Art Fag Recordings (CASBAH WEB SITE)

   I've literally never seen so much of Tim Mays as I did over the Three Nights At The Con event.  He was there every night from beginning to end.  It was a sight to behold.  Co-Presenter Impose was represented by a large blanket with "IMPOSE" stiched into it stretched across the back of the stage,  a hand held videographer with a powerful, powerful light source on the camera and one of the many, many, many people who snapped photographs on something other then a smart phone.

  Three Nights At The Con was a triumph for all involved, and Friday was the best night.  It was especially triumphant for Vivian Girls.

Teenage Burritos

TEENAGE BURRITOS:  I missed this band, through no fault of my own, but I def. want to catch the show next time they play.  They have a witty tumblr. (TEENAGE BURRITOS TUMBLR) and a facebook page.

Stephanie Chan and Dunes

DUNES:  The audience "filled in" during the Dunes sense which must be an interesting experience for the performers- starting a set with a half empty audience and ending it to a full house.  I've never been so aware of this phenomenon happening at a show as I was at this show, for whatever reason.  It was like a slow moving wave of people entering the main room at the Casbah, specifically the area in front of the stage.  Unlike Thursday night there were not a lot of drunk bros talking loudly at the Bar.  Dunes is stuck at under 100k listens on Last FM- which is lower then it should be, I think because they are college students and don't want to do the touring necessary to make a larger foot print.  Regional band by choice, I suppose you could call it.  Watching them though it occurred to me that this is precisely the kind of music that is in vogue with indie rock types, flowing sound,  odd time signatures, jazz influences, atmospheric, charismatic lead performer.  One thing DUNES does not have (by design, I imagine) is hits.   I thought they obtained a positive response from the Audience.

The Babies: Photo Credit LA Music Blog

THE BABIES:  were a pleasant surprise, though seeing that they are above 400k plays on Last Fm means that I shouldn't have been surprised at all.  According to this 2010 post from Fader, The Babies includes Cassie Ramone from The Vivian Girls and the bassist from Woods.  As should be perfectly clear from the profiles of both generative bands, The Babies are an indie rock Fleetwood Mac of sorts- in terms of conception.  Obviously, the issue is that both "main members" have other commitments and, I suppose the fact that Pitchfork doesn't really like the project, which is important if you consider the role that Pitchfork "Darling" status has played in the Ascension of Woods to Canonical status.

I approached the performance from a position of total ignorance, and I liked what I saw.  I'm not a fan or either Vivian Girls OR Woods, simply aware of them and their position in the galaxy of indie rock, but The Babies gave a really strong performance, the crowd responded well to it.  To the extent that there is some kind of existing question over the merit of Cassie Ramone's vocals, this was a crowd that was firmly in the 'pro' camp.   The song structures were particularly strong and the Audience responded to the strength of the songs.  The fact that Pitchfork doesn't like them is a problem, but not that big a problem- not with close to half a million last fm plays.  That denotes widespread recognition of the project.

Grass Widow

GRASS WIDOW:  Last time I saw Grass Widow (2009, Art Fag Fest) I didn't like what I saw, but this time I did.  They had tough, catchy songs that really reminded me of Tiger Trap, which is an often mentioned band by people who never saw the band perform live.  Their new record is selling well on Midheaven.  They are a good example of band that is self-releasing in a successful fashion and their example ought to emulated by other bands.  I very much doubt that they are getting rich, but they are continuing to exist and improving.

The Vivian Girls

THE VIVIAN GIRLS:  I think the narrative of The Vivian Girls is best encapsulated by this Show Review from June 2010 where Best Coast OPENED for The Vivian Girls.  If you look at the respective size of the two acts two years later, The Vivian Girls are stuck in place and Best Coast in zooming towards a "Major Label" audience size.   Which is not to say that The Vivian Girls are stuck in a bad place, with over 3 million last fm plays, they are a viable, international touring rock band.   I mean, during this show, I was literally looking at the 94/9 Ampitheater Jam where Best Coast is main support to Fiona Apple.

     So, all the baggage aside, they put on a really strong show, and they drew 200+ to watch, which is a good showing for a band that was essentially heading towards broken up status.  Here are my suggestions for The Vivian Girls: switch record labels- they aren't going to be front burner at Polyvinyl until Japandroids cool down (which won't happen for a year plus.)

   I think, aside from all the NYC scene drama bullshit, the only other "problem" with a band that has 3 million plus last fm plays is the song writing.  During one particularly strong song I heard echoes of the recent Frankie Rose Interstellar album, and I mentioned it to someone who told me that this particular song was written by Frankie Rose.  It certainly gave me an opportunity to see a lot of Cassie Ramone.

  Cassie Ramone needs the career equivalent of when Lou Reed went to London and recorded with David Bowie and Mick Ronson.  Cassie Ramone is Lou Reed, and I will accept nominations for David Bowie and Mick Ronson,.

David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Mick Ronson & Marc Bolan (Iggy T-Shirt)

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