by Julia Leiby
On October 18th, 2019, Vivian Girls played one of their reunion shows at First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. Young Guv, the project of Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook, and Philadelphia-based four piece rock band Empath opened up the show as well.
Young Guv opened up the show with a brisk set of indie pop songs that recalled bands such as Thin Lizzy with their power pop guitars. They played mainly songs from their 2019 record GUV 1 and will release another record GUV 2 this week. They are on Run For Cover records and played a quick and melodic set of songs that set the night off to a good start.
Philadelphia’s own Empath played second. The band, fronted by Catherine Elicson, plays noisy pop music with synths and keys as well. The mix of Vivian girls’ rather straightforward pop songs and Empath’s more messy and dynamic tunes bounced well off of each other. They recently re-released their debut album on vinyl. It’s called Active Listening: Night on Earth and was released on Get Better Records. The songs “Hanging Out of Cars” and “Roses That Cry” were some highlights of the mesmerizing set. Vivian Girls’s drummer Ali Koehler could be seen with her young daughter Wendy by the side of the stage dancing along.
Vivian Girls were mainly active in 2008-2011 and released three albums in that time. They are fronted by Cassie Ramone, with Katy Goodman (who went on to play in other projects such as La Sera) on bass/vocals and a revolving cast of drummers (now Ali Koehler). They have a knack for singing about heartbreak and love in a relatable way that listeners can connect to. They started off the set with the song “Walking Alone at Night,” the first track from their 2nd album Everything Goes Wrong.
Most of their songs are very short and jangly but instantly memorable. They regrouped and released a new record this year, Memory, and played a couple songs from it. The record picks up just where the previous record from eight years ago left off and is a return to form for them. Since their last record, two of the band members have gotten married and have young children, which is why they were playing three mini tours on weekends instead of touring extensively like they used to. They played a mix of songs from their four records and and in the encore, covered the late indie punk legend Jay Reatard’s song “My Shadow” and it was spot on in its intensity. The show was sweet and it’s exciting to see a band like Vivian Girls return and continue to be passionate about making and playing music together.