Vivian Girls and Dark Meat. . . On A Boat

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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.

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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.

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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

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