One block from the 9:30 Club is the Velvet Lounge, a more obscure and slightly seedier music venue for the 21+ crowd. Past the bouncer and up the sticker-covered stairs on the venue’s secondary stage, LA punk duo DTCV (pronounced “detective”) played a 10-song set to a crowd that maxed out at about 30 people — and they nailed it.
Temporarily bereft of their drummer and bass player, the frontman and frontwoman, Fiat Lux (aka James Greer, once a member of Guided by Voices) and Vivarock (Guylaine Vivarat), had only their own voices and guitars to recreate songs from their three albums. But they did so in good humor as they sheepishly apologized for depriving the audience of the cool drum and bass intros to some songs, and joked that the drummer was having “Health problems” since he missed the show to film a music video with his other band, Health.
Their joking continued throughout the show as they bantered with the audience and tossed out absurd one-liners after songs, like “that one was called Get Out of My Haircut Priest … obviously.”
Jokes aside, their catchy punk riffs managed to preserve a strong sense of headbang-worthy rhythms and their enthusiastic playing made it impossible to refrain from at least nodding your head to the tune. Though there were only two guitars and two vocalists, the sound very rarely felt incomplete, as the distortion-heavy guitar sound filled the small room.
They played a variety of songs from their various albums, including a few tracks from their upcoming release, “Uptime!,” which is due on vinyl and cassette on April 8. Standouts include “Miley Cyrus Wins the Race” — a rocking tune that is not, in fact, about Miley Cyrus — and “I Was Where Were You” — their most-played song on Spotify which became much more rockin’ without the synth present in the recorded version.
Vivarat’s vocals manage to be both ethereal and strong, and her tone and style cannot really be compared to anyone else out there right now. Her higher, dreamy pitch served as a great contrast to Greer’s gravelly baritone whenever they traded vocals, adding more uniqueness to their already hip and different sound.
The juxtaposition between these two performers — she a young Frenchwoman in throwback pink fishnets, he an aging rocker decked in gray — made it even clearer that these guys are like no other band out there right now.
The only drawbacks for this show were problems with presentation. Sometimes Greer’s guitar sounded sloppy and a tad off, and it did not always seem like they knew what was going on. The general seediness of the venue also added a hint of grime to the whole experience.
That being said, punk shows are meant to be a little edgy, a little rough, a little out-there. And this was exactly what a punk show should be: a hard-rocking band cutting loose on a dimly lit stage, rolling along through flubbed lyrics and missing band members and just generally having a crazy-good time.
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