Death Valley Girls & the Shivas @ Red Gate, 03/25/17
Psych rock is not strange to Vancouver. Saturday night’s the Shivas and Death Valley Girls concert at Red Gate was a particular winner. Presented by the mysterious promoter I Am The Egg Plant, the show was a full evening of heavy but danceable rock and an all-around psychedelic evening for an eager east-Van crowd.
The Shivas, a viciously energetic Portland based outfit, craft a brand of punk rock that blends ‘90s alternative styles and athletics with ‘60s pop sensibilities. As a three-piece only consisting of a single guitarist, bassist and drummer, all members provided equal volume in their musical interplay. Fun, loud, playful, bold and showing no lack of attitude, the Shivas warrant comparisons to clever, volume heavy Canadian rock groups like Eric’s Trip or Cousins. While performing cheery, tongue-in-cheek bullets like “You Make Me Wanna Die,” the three members of the Shivas wore broad smiles.
Death Valley Girls, with their snappy, crashing drums, uplifting bass and blistering guitar attack are mostly female with an optimistic, occultist outlook. Song styles range from the demonic, playful grind of “Seis Seis Seis” to the upbeat “Disco” with its infectious, sing-along stomp. With a name with thunderous drums, booming bass and eerily energized guitar, the Death Valley Girls crank out freaky rock that makes you want to hit the dance floor or the gas pedal. Persona is key part of live performance and Death Valley Girls have no lack of it. Front woman Bonnie Bloomgarden falls somewhere between Cindy Lauper and Roky Erickson and treats being onstage as an out of body experience. Flailing playfully across the stage, Bloomgarden is both endearing and totally punk rock. Larry Schemel’s inclusion on Death Valley Girl’s otherwise all-female seems like an extra, satirical bonus. On intros on songs such as “Glow in the Dark,” Schemel’s guitar work provides subtle, visceral ambiance before cranking into raunchy, meaty riffs. Ranging from wailing, crunchy, distorted riffs to the chugging, blues structures such as “I’m A Man, Too”, the Death Valley Girls’ guitar work has a universally vintage tinge.
With solid, dual headliners like the Shivas and Death Valley Girls, it is clear that Vancouver occupies a particularly respected place on the modern psychedelic circuit. Fear not the Shivas or Death Valley Girls–they are rock-solid proof that music on the west coast is alive and kicking.