Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
February doesn’t seem like the best time for an outdoor rock show in New York City, but the women of Brooklyn-based retro-punks Vivian Girls are hot-blooded. “Did it just start snowing?” asked guitarist and singer Cassie Ramone excitedly, letting the shoulder of her light cardigan fall even further off her bare arm, as below her the assembled crowd of fans blew into their fists to keep their fingers warm. “I am so psyched I can finally say I’ve played a show in the snow!” Then the trio launched into another of their perfectly compact 2.5 minute, harmony-laden songs.
“Their tats looked awesome next to Kate Spade’s Stepford wife wear.”
There’s only one reason you’d find a band of pretty girls playing a rock show in the middle of winter in short dresses: Fashion week. Oh yes, it’s upon us once again, that biannual tradition in which the whole of downtown (and parts of uptown) is taken over by people wearing clothes designed for the exact opposite weather as what we’re experiencing outside. In September, when it’s still sweltering, the City’s fashionistas pull out the chunky knits and suede boots they’ve been saving for fall. And right now, though it’s still all wet and cold out, there are all these spindly women trotting around in sporty neon sheaths and filmy pastel shirtdresses.
The band kept the set short, as much for our sake as for theirs. “The bass strings felt like knives,” exclaimed Katy Goodman as I followed her into the back of the cherry-red makeshift tour bus that served as the backdrop for the show. “Kate Spade made a new collection inspired by music,” she explained as we all smushed into the curtained-off area in back. “They decided to have a tour to support it and then they realized they needed a band. So here we are!”
I’ve never been into Kate Spade stuff for myself — too patrician garden party for my taste — but turns out those sleeveless A-line floral dresses look great with body art. The Vivian Girls usually show off their long inked-up limbs in L-train staples like daisy dukes and filmy burnout patterned tanks, but their tats looked awesome next to Kate Spade’s Stepford wife wear.
Next up for the Vivian Girls is a mini West Coast tour in their Spade-decorated bus. The plan, they told me, is to keep away from their home base of NYC for a little while, so as to keep the fans wanting more. “We play hard to get,” Ramone explained. Next up for me was a mini-tour of the West Village’s coziest post-show drinking establishments, including Jane Hotel and the Waverly Inn. It was a lovely winter evening fueled by artisanal cocktails and truffle mac and cheese; the only problem was, in my sweater dress and Shearling coat, I was embarrassingly overdressed. I saw three different girls in fluorescent neoprene mini-dresses. Note to self: Get some tattoos and some new threads. Spring is here.