Hit the Bowery Ballroom tonight for an absolutely killer double bill: Times New Viking and the Vivian Girls. There was an opening act too, wonderfully named 'Stupid Party,' but I missed them because I was seeing the new Star Trek movie. Got out of the movie (which was fucking rad) at ~9:46, and ran to the Bowery Ballroom from the Regal Theater at Union Square. Less than 10 minutes later I was there (felt like I was goin sub-7 along the way). Lady at the door assured me TNV hadn't gone on yet, so I hit the bathroom. As I was finishing up, I heard the crowd begin to cheer on the floor above me. Almost perfect timing.
As I made my way up the stairs to the performance area, Adam (the drummer) was saying something about "... our president smokes cigarettes," and then they launched into their first song (which I don't remember). It was a pretty standard TNV show: rapid-fire Ramones-esque pace, with the brief between song interjections by Adam (ex. "This song isn't about drugs"). Unfortunately, something about the band felt limp and bedraggled, unfortunate considering their tour just began. They just didn't seem to be having that much fun on stage, quite a contrast from the last time I saw them play at P4k '08. Beth looked positively haggard: maybe it was the lighting, but the bags beneath her eyes looked like they weighed a ton each. Whatever, I was still hypnotized by her, especially when she ditched the keyboards for a bright red electric guitar when the band played one of the 'new songs.' Actually, the song totally sucked, which highlights another major problem I had with the show: they didn't do my favorite songs. In fact, they hardly touched Ripped Off, playing maybe 3 songs from their breakout LP from last year. And they didn't play 'Teenage Lust!'! Goddamn it, that's all I really wanted! Egregiously, their set lasted approximately ~27 minutes, then they made a swift exit. I mean, I'm all about the Ramones thing, but that's going a little too far. Especially when they missed so many awesome tunes. At least they did 'Call and Respond,' maybe their 2nd best song. And when they were playing, I was definitely going ga ga. But c'mon, 27 minutes? What was the big hurry? I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and just assume drug consumption contributed to the early departure. But honestly, after getting so pumped for this show, I was a little disillusioned afterwards.
Thankfully the Viv Grrlz kicked ass. Their set was even more Ramones like in terms of loud fast songs with few short positives, but unlike TNV, they were excited and full of energy. I'm not as familiar with their stuff, but the passion they brought to their girl-group-surf-punk-lo-fi-garage rock odes to the disorienting highs and lows of love was intoxicating, and the crowd loved every minute of it. I'm a pretty expressive music fan, but even I was embarrassed by how some of the dudes were responding to the music. But honestly, who could blame them? Cassie Ramone and Kickball Katy were positively babelicious (shwing!), and the fun they were having was contagious. I'll even forgive them for skipping over their best song ('Where Do You Run' of course). Especially awesome was when they started to jam out on their last few songs, and let the shoegazey distortion slip into overdrive. The set concluded with the Vivz rotating instruments, which somehow turned out to be awesome. It was so enthralling that I wasn't even that disappointed when the Gurlz left without an encore. Great show.
Stuck around for a moment afterwards, and saw Beth Murphy chatting with some altish looking randos, probably just fans. I hovered for a bit hoping to get in a word with my goddess idol, but these bros would not quit. In the end, I took inspiration from Hutch Harris, and "I let it go." Perhaps the next time. And hopefully TNV will put a little more life into it then.