Vivian Girls and Dark Meat. . . On A Boat


Vivian Girls + Dark Meat
Rocks Off Boat Cruise
Friday October 3
Photos by Rebecca Smeyne

On any other night, this would have been the proverbial $7 Todd P double matinee that turns Silent Barn into a sweatbox. So there was only one way you could justify the $25 ticket price: The ability to say “on a boat,” enthused and swollen with pride, like Jon Stewart says “on weed” in Half Baked. “Sure you’ve seen Vivian Girls and Dark Meat, but have you seen them. . . on a boat?” It was truly a cool experiment for band, audience, and venue (which usually books big names, jam-friendly acts, and cover bands) alike–a fancy, transformative vessel providing a three-hour (de-)tour for two lo-fi bands and about 80 audience members accustomed to cheap and dirty.

The Vivian Girls brilliantly used the occasion to turn inward. Their did their usual act of standing motionless, eyes half mast, leaking songs as multi-hued ooze, but it was all more private and cold and serene since they were all hunched in jackets to fight the nippy 56-degree sea winds, fighting their balance, fighting the borrowed gear. Seeing the New York skyline float aimlessly behind them through a dirty tarp was the perfect analogue to hearing the Girls play their mutant bubblegum through a mountain of fuzz. “Tell The World,” which can be a B-52’s rave-up in the right light and the right crowd full of crazy broke kids, was more like a chilly Deal-Sisters-style lurch floating menacingly next to a speckled skyline and a docile crowd. The sunniest art-rock of the summer was revealed to be secretly dark, sinister and paranoid.

While Vivian Girls reveled in the claustrophobia of the Half Moon’s cabin, Dark Meat used it to add to their chaos. Their 13-member crew waved tambourines and honked bike horns, stripped clothes, sprayed confetti through a leaf-blower, and played tuba on the deck. A jaunty sea-shanty (I think it was their track “Dead Man”) brought the most nautical nonsense, and was truly the apotheosis of this venue’s possibilities for punk shows: Some band members barely kept their balance as the boat rocked and swayed, others gawked and pointed at the Statue Of Liberty mid-song. Audience members tossed streamers; a stranger kissed me on the cheeks.–Christopher R. Weingarten