“Do you guys like rock ‘n’ roll music?” For the crowd at British songstress VV Brown’s sold-out Friday show at DC9, the answer was a resounding “yes.”
The music world is constantly faced with revivals of past styles; everything old is eventually shined into something new. Most of Brown’s debut Travelling Like the Light takes the form of a rock n’ roll & doo wop pastiche that recalls the pioneers of 50s and 60s pop music. It’s not necessarily novel territory (Brian Setzer revived similar sounds in both the 80s and 90s), but Brown does put her own spin on the ball. Her bouncy vocals are strong enough to carry the hook heavy songs, and she cuts an imposing figure on stage: a 5’11” Lady Gaga-meets-Janelle Monae hybrid.
Taking the stage in a Gaga-ish masquerade get-up, Brown and her backing band launched into “Everybody,” a toe-tapper that sounds like “Black Betty” with a disco chorus. Next up was “Game Over,” aided by backing tracks – a disappointing conceit for someone so dedicated to recreating the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll. The songs are strong enough to stand on their own without the note-for-note production found on the album.
The crowd thoroughly enjoyed the set, dancing and singing along at the sock hop throwback. A cover of Drake’s hit “Best I Ever Had” was a crowd-pleaser, as was the swinging surf rocker “Crying Blood,” augmented by a reggae remix that let Brown take the crowd “back to the islands.” Closing the set was one of the strongest singles from her album, “Shark in the Water,” a strummer reminiscent of KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.”
Another artist on the BBC Sound of 2009 list, VV Brown offers a fresh take on classic sounds – and a fun experience for those who were too young to jump, jive, and wail during the late 90s.