“Where would we be without reverb?” a Vivian Girls fan asked his friend at the band’s first farewell show in Brooklyn. “Lost.”
That certainly seemed to be the case five years ago, when anyone with a guitar and inherent love of girl groups seemed to suddenly (re)discover Phil Spector’s perennial Wall of Sound. Now that many of Vivian Girls’ contemporaries — Dum Dum Girls, Best Coast, their short-lived bandmate Frankie Rose — have either switched to synths or upped their production values, and the band itself is split between coasts and side projects (La Sera, Upset, the Babies), their decision to split doesn’t just seem appropriate. It seems necessary, the only way for everyone to truly start fresh and move forward.
In the meantime, Saturday’s Death By Audio show was a fitting tribute to the many nights they’d played the raw space before, building a tight local following — and for a minute there, lots of national press — with just the right blend of salty/sweet guitar pop. Tellingly, many concertgoers drifted over to a dance party at Baby’s All Right afterward, soaking up the sounds (the experimental techno of Laurel Halo and PAN’s Bill Kouligas) that in many ways have stolen some of the shine of straight-up bands. Props to Waxahatchee then for keeping that torch alive and supporting Vivian Girls with a ragged and rough alt-rock set that proved Katie Crutchfield is just getting started, thank you very much.