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Alternative girl band makes its Cleveland debut
By: Mallory Factor
Posted: 2/6/09


By most accounts, disco, and the glam that accompanied it, is dead. That is, the genre that produced mainstream acts like ABBA and The Bee Gees has become ancient history - a forgotten antiquity to all but its most dedicated fans. Von Iva, far from the conventional alternative girl rock band, hopes to change that. Named after lead singer Jillian Iva's great grandmother - who was a snake charmer and adventurous woman, as the band's keyboardist Becky described her ­- the trio's music certainly channels their namesake's spirit with a sound Becky defines as "soul and disco, dance-y and soulful; really aggressive, loud, and fun. Unpredictable."

Von Iva's newly released EP Girls on Film - aptly named considering the band's recent appearance in the 2008 Jim Carrey movie Yes Man - is an amalgam of pulsating beats, Tina Turner-like vocals, and catchy, repetitive lyrics. The best song on the EP, "Electricity," has the simplest chorus imaginable - "Give it to me, give it to me/Electricity/ Give it to me, give it to me/Shock," with a beat similar to Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady" - but is delivered so perfectly by Iva that it's impossible not to hum hours after listening. Similarly, the CD's first track, "Livin For It," contains the equally repetitive chorus, "How can we not change our ways?/Should be living for, living for, living for another day?", and would have fit perfectly in the SNL movie "A Night At The Roxbury" as well as in front of an arena crowd. The most interesting and experimental track on the album is "LALA," a song that slows down the pace and allows Iva's booming voice to fill all the gaps in music with powerful and relatively meaningful lyrics about the treacherousness of a city like Los Angeles and how easily it can suck up and drain its inhabitants.

Still, no matter how catchy a band like Von Iva is, so much of their musical credibility and eventual fame is dependent on the band's ability to perform, a facet on which Von Iva prides itself. As Becky explained, "Our shows are crazy; people get wild. In Austin, a girl got on stage and took her shirt off. People go crazy." She then went on to give potential audience members some advice for their shows: "Don't feel like you can't move around - it is encouraged greatly." Luckily for Clevelanders, they'll get their chance to see the band today when Von Iva plays its first-ever show in the city, at Coventry's Grog Shop, with Semi-Precious Weapons and Dead Letter Room, a stop on the Hell Of Heels Tour. Considering how important it is to the girls to connect to their audience, it's definitely a show that shouldn't be missed.

With their unconventional mixture of disco, soul, and punk, a composite genre they describe as "street glam," it's easy to see why the girls, when asked what movie they imagine their music featured in (other than Yes Man, which they were perfect for), quickly responded collectively, Boogie Nights, a 1997 cult classic about a late 1970s Californian's rise and fall in the pornographic industry. Their music influences would fit perfectly: disco because of the time setting, soul because of the main character's personal turmoil, and punk because of the band's idiosyncratic yet unceremoniously popular movie choice. It may not receive attention from the masses, but it undoubtedly has its audience. And, for now, that's how Von Iva stands - a band missing the mainstream attention, but with a niche that is surely soon to grow.