January 23rd at The Middle East Upstairs
By: Rebecca Pariente
Arriving an hour early to see TV Girl at the Middle East, I went to the upstairs lounge, which has a cozy little restaurant filled with dim Christmas lights. The performance room itself was very intimate and relaxed, barely fitting 200 people.
The night began slowly with Austin-born MIT student, Noa Mori, singing over pre recorded background synth from her laptop. Reminiscent of a simplified Regina Spektor, Noa’s airy voice and poetic lyrics such as “How many lives do we sacrifice? / The world takes its time like a glass of wine,” in her track “Whine” warmed up the initially sparse crowd. Although not as dynamic as the other acts of the night, her whimsical style was an excellent way to ease into the modern, electronic atmosphere of the night.
The following opener was where the energy started to pick up. Poppet, the next musician, consists only of Molly Raney arranging her songs live with her keyboard and synthesizer. While vocalizing her views on various social issues, Poppet provided an experimental vibe to the show. It was a special night for her for several reasons; one being that it was her birthday, and second that she was joined by her “old dancing partner” on stage to perform some interpretive dance. Both dressed in leotards and braided hair, the two women danced with synchronized and frenzied movements. Unapologetic in her lyrics, volume, and movements, Poppet provided a proper transition for TV Girl’s set.
TV Girl has an unmistakable sound that hits harder and harder the more you delve into their catalog. Their sound can lead one into the most delicious, synth-induced coma that they could ask for. Lead vocalist Brad Petering delivers brutally honest stories juxtaposed with his comedic, yet oddly calming, tone. The majority of TV Girl’s songs describe modern relationships and people we can all recognize in our day to day lives portrayed in a candid yet cheery manner. Sticking mostly to tracks from their first album French Exit and their earlier EPs , they started their set with “If You Want It” followed by their most popular song “Birds Don’t Sing”. The blending of retro-sounding samples and a modern beat makes this song very difficult not to dance to. This feeling mirrored Poppet’s set, who could be seen dancing harder than anyone in the room on stage, side-by-side with TV Girl. Petering contributed to the audience’s relaxed mood, joking that he and the other members were “risking life and limb to deliver some groovy tunes”. Gliding seamlessly through each song, they performed an excellent cover of The Shirelles “I Met Him on a Sunday”. This was followed by my personal favorite, the fluttery and expressive track “The Blonde”. Topping off the night with the swooning “Lover’s Jam”, they left the audience lightheaded and wanting more of their heavenly dance melodies.