If you ever need a reminder of how incredibly valuable location and hype are to a band's success, take a look at Vivian Girls. When the New York City-based outfit bubbled up in the Indie Rock world in late 2007, they were greeted with buzz and excitement. That early positive push was crucial to giving them a solid fan base as they got used to being a band.
Explaining why everyone was so smitten with the Girls is a bit tricky to do. It's likely due to a perfect storm of circumstance. There’s their fuzzy Garage-Punk teeter-tottered between sweetness and attitude just right, reeling in multiple audiences. They slyly evoke hip, fascinating sounds of the '60s (girl groups) and the '80s (Dream Pop and Post Punk). They played alongside several other credible, rising groups and their name (a reference to The Story of the Vivian Girls, Henry Darger's arcane 15,000-page book) is impeccably cool.
Moreover, Vivian Girls' revival of the girl-group aesthetic — one that capitalized on bubblegum hooks, imperfect production and simple, romance-focused lyricism — set the stage for Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls later getting popular while working the same niche. This isn't to say Vivian Girls are unworthy of their success, but even for as intoxicating as a track “Wild Eyes” is, there's a healthy chance they'd be kicking around in obscurity if they'd come up in Des Moines in 2003.
By now, the band's on its third record, April's Share the Joy, gingerly tip-toeing outside their original parameters, tinkering with longer track lengths and lobbing a few guitar solos out there. It'll be interesting to see what Vivian Girls' situation is like in five years time. If they're still around and relevant, all the early hype will have definitely been worth it; if not, they might already be a temporal relic.
VIVIAN GIRLS play the Southgate House Wednesday, April 20 with THE BLACK LIPS. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.