Vivian Girls at Gemma: $10 Beers, Priceless Performance

See the full 22-photo Vivian Girls slideshow.

Vivian Girls

Miami Music Festival: Tom Tom Magazine Showcase

Gemma on Lincoln Road

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Better Than: Swindling the doorman of a traditionally pretentious South Beach nightclub into letting you forego a cover, and walk into the joint wearing shorts.

Hypothetical Situation: We're in a band, a well-known, well-respected indie surf punk trio from Brooklyn with oodles of hipster fans across the globe. We've been on tour for the better part of 2010, but agree to play Saturday night at up-and-coming Miami Music Festival in mid-November out of the goodness of our kind hearts. The only request we have is that our buddy's name makes the guest list. Oh, and a few drink tickets.

Sounds fairly reasonable, right? This wouldn't be an issue anywhere else in the world except for South Beach, where drink tickets and guest list privileges are reserved for Heat players and Cash Money Millionaires. Just because a band has over one million page views on MySpace, or plays legitimate festivals on the reg, doesn't guarantee a free Corona before hitting the stage. They've got to fork up $10 like everyone else. Just ask the Vivian Girls, the well-known, well-respected indie surf punk trio from Brooklyn with oodles of hipster fans across the globe.

The band's after-midnight set on Saturday was part of the Tom Tom Magazine showcase at Gemma, a stereotypical South Beach lounge, complete with astronomically priced cocktails, a strict dress code, and an even tougher door policy.

So tough in fact, that Vivian Girls' bassist, Katy Goodman, got shit for walking in with a plastic bag containing granola bars she'd purchased a few hours earlier. Thankfully, she was able to sweet talk her way into her own show and enjoy a pre-set snack.

At 12:20, Goodman, guitarist/vocalist Cassie Ramone, and new addition Fiona Campbell on drums plugged in and opened the set with "Never See Me Again," a track off their 2008 self-titled LP. But the notoriously energetic girl group didn't start raging until the third song.

With a mischievous smile on her face, Goodman casually strolled off stage and found the nearest table. She climbed on top and played bass from there for a short while before reuniting with her band--no more than 15-feeet away--on stage.

A half-hour into the set, Ramone thanked everyone in attendance--between 40 and 50 people--for making it out to the show. Goodman apologized about the drink prices, "Sorry about the $10 beers," to which Ramone replied, "Me too."

Though the crowd was much smaller in comparison to what the Vivian Girls are likely used to, their onstage presence wasn't any less dynamic. After playing "Before I Start to Cry," Goodman walked into the crowd again, made her way toward an empty white chair, sat down, and eventually slid off onto the floor.

She went on to kick an ottoman back towards the stage and invited, "Whoever wants to sit on it," to do so for the last song. Turns out, a dude who'd originally been denied access by Gemma security for wearing shorts claimed the front-stage spot, and comfortably enjoyed the final song. He wore pants.

We'd love to see Vivian Girls play Miami again, and hope the awkward MMF volunteer that casually slipped the girls a business card pre-set, pulls through and uses his connects to hook 'em up with a proper venue for next time. And drink tickets, bro.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I was a fan when Frankie Rose played drums. It stayed that way after Ali Koehler took over, but I think Fiona Campbell is the group's best drummer yet.

The Crowd: Hipsters, lesbians, and label execs ... It felt like Williamsburg.

Overheard: Funny chick with a raspy voice sarcastically yelled, "Oh, you don't have your pants on? Get the fuck out."

Partial Set List:

We lost our set list en route to the car. Damn you, back pocket. This is what we remembered.

-"Never See Me Again"

-"My Love With Follow Me"

-"Before I Start to Cry"

-"The Other Girls"

-"Where Do You Run To"

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Victor Gonzalez
Contact: Victor Gonzalez