A line snaked out the entrance of Beat Kitchen this past weekend and I couldn’t say I was surprised. The under 21 but 17+ fans were anxiously waiting to get into the venue. Although I only discovered TV Girl this summer, I had a feeling that their following was pretty intense and devoted. The way the trio of electronic musicians was described to me felt emblematic of excellent indie pop acts, making songs so instantly enjoyable and recognizable that a grand obsession was inescapable. After listening to their albums Who Really Cares and French Exit back to back, I fell under the TV Girl spell. I wasn’t entirely sure how their sound would translate to a live setting, but luckily it proved to excel even better than their pristine recordings.
Vesper, the musical project of Zak Fox Jablow and Samantha Rose Humphreys, started up the night with one of the best opening performance I’ve seen in a while. The local pair works in such seamless harmony, playing off one another and the crowd with ease. It took less than a song to get the crowd moving and dancing their way closer to the stage. The pair has an aesthetic of 1930s jazz duo transported into the present; the piano re-imagined with a laptop and synths, the vocals and lyrics pushed to their modern pop limits. Take for example the eponymous track of their EP Teeth, a song full of dark sexuality, that Humphreys’ voice carries with all the emotion it deserves. “Rooftops” evoked the atmosphere of hi-rise parties but with lofty sincerity while “Ghosts” pushes against the past keeping you down. Every song felt familiar in the best way possible, like songs that had been playing in the background for years and are finally getting their due.
Vesper set the bar impossibly high for the rest of the night, which in this case was perfect as every band met the challenge. Following them was Brothertiger (John Jagos). His solo set had a completely different energy than that of Vesper’s, more mellow and absorbing, but still reached those satisfying heights laid before him. A pair of tables full of keys and equipment were positioned like an arrow pointing out to the crowd, with Jagos in the center going to work on creating intense grooves. There were moments’ throughout his performance where zoning out and swaying to the the driving synth was unavoidable. His vocals disappeared into the tracks, becoming as enigmatic and alluring as the rest of his pulsing beats and ethereal soundscapes.
The flow of the night had been ideal, feeding the frenzied crowd some excellent tunes in anticipation. The quality performances that the openers offered up extended deep into TV Girls set. The trio of Brad Petering, Jason Wyman, and Wyatt Harmon made their way to the darkened stage where only an ever color shifting visage of a girl’s face could be seen in the center of it all. When the lights came up and the group dove into their set, they didn’t show off with unneeded flair or over the top lighting. They focused on crafting their songs in the moment and letting the vibe do it’s thing.
TV Girl’s songs skirt the line between multiple genres in a way that feeling organic, despite the electronic essence of its elements. Hip-hop beats lead bright and colorful keys with hazy samples interlaced throughout, all the while Petering’s voice serenades nonchalantly about love, sex, and the loss of it all. “Birds Don’t Sing” is probably the shining example of the group’s music, a song about a breakup that isn’t really being taken seriously by one of the people in it. Petering maneuvers through the lyrics with the same abandon that it’s narrator does. The overt sexual nature of “Loving Machine” is made better with Petering’s lackadaisical drawl churning along.
Structured in three acts, TV Girl’s set forwent an encore, establishing a well crafted progression that kept raising it’s ceiling until it found itself to a very satisfying end. Throughout the rise they jumped back and forth between their two albums, once again playing into my opinion that the best time to see band is after their sophomore release. “Heaven’s a Bedroom”, a song whose lyric contradict it’s title and boasts of a love too good to be true, played late into the set with transcendent force. ” You’ll forgive me for thinking heaven was her bedroom. It’s as close as I would ever get” echoed in the ears of everyone in the crowd, dancing the night away.
All photos by Julian Ramirez