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Von Iva At The Viper Room
Hot Stuff on the Sunset Strip

Seeing a live band should leave you grasping at adjectives when you try to explain it to your friends the next day. It should leave you at a loss for words, wanting simply to type “GO SEE THIS BAND NOW” when you’re trying to write a concert review. The best music is just too good to define in simple words on a page (or screen).

If you ask any up-and-coming band member to define their band’s music, you will almost always get the same answer. The band member will pause, tilt their head, squint a little, maybe look at the sky with their mouth hanging open for a moment, and then they will say something like, “We don’t fit under one genre” or “We’re sort of a post-emo, hard-rock-influenced, techno-hip-hop punk band with country-type vocals,” or “We’re our own category; we’re [insert band name here]-type music!” But the sad truth is, while most bands think of themselves as unique enough to escape categorization, very few truly are that.

Von Iva, who played the 9:30 p.m. slot at The Viper Room this past Monday, truly is that original. They don’t fit under just one genre. They really are a soul-rock-new-wave-indie-glam-punk-dance band (which doesn’t even cover it, really). They’re definitely their own category, and the only appropriate name for it is Von Iva-type music.

Here are the bio facts: They are a trio from San Francisco with one album under their belt and an EP on the way (buy it on their website). They’ve been together since 2005. They’ve been in television shows, commercials, and magazine blurbs. This December, they will appear in the new Zooey Deschanel flick Yes Man. They’ve opened for The Go-Gos and they’ve played the Warped Tour. They are on their own tour right now, and Monday night they played The Viper Room.

Drummer Kelly Harris was fierce and rhythm-perfect behind a regular drum kit, and then midway through the set, she jumped to the front of the stage to play the tom-toms with some sort of cloth-covered mallet. In lieu of guitar or bass, the single-moniker Bex played a driving, intense Korg synth. Lead singer Jillian Iva sounded like a cross between Aretha Franklin, Debbie Harry, and Janis Joplin, and she danced like a kid from the lunchroom scene in the movie Fame. They played techno, they played rock ballads, they played a bombastic cover of the disco hit “Hot Stuff”… Yes, all three women — the band itself — defied simple categorization. However, they had what any band anywhere should have, which is undeniable musical talent, which means that their music is undeniably worthy of respect from anyone, fan or not. They also played the way any band, on any stage, should play, which is like their lives depended on it, which means that Von Iva fans inevitably feel as though their lives depend on Von Iva’s music too.

So those are the facts about Von Iva, and an attempt at a review of the show. But really, you just gotta see these guys live. GO SEE THIS BAND NOW.