TV Girl serves up bedroom pop at Southport Hall

Olivia Tanaka-Kekai, Contributing Reporter

TV Girl performing at Southport Hall.
TV Girl performing at Southport Hall while on tour. (Olivia Tanaka-Kekai)

No band gets hazy, neon-lit bedroom pop like TV Girl. Their music is the sound of late-night fast drives and first kisses with a highschool boyfriend. Lo-fi, synthy instruments juxtaposed against frontman Brad Petering’s delightfully mundane vocals capture the ups and downs of being young and not in love. 

If there is one laurel to be bestowed upon TV Girl, it’s that they created and committed to a strong musical identity, especially impressive for an indie act. They’re fun, casual and lowkey despite the musical chaos around them. On albums it works; but, in the world of live performance, there are a million things beyond a band’s control. The tightly woven nature of TV Girl’s music present on a record is destabilized, even if slightly, by live concerts. 

TV Girl and opener Jordanna played their trademark sexy-but-tired pop at Southport Hall on Sept. 28 to a crowd of twenty-somethings clustered excitedly around the stage. Petering and the rest of the band started the night with “Pantyhose,” a sensual but light and ethereal track. After welcoming the crowd, Petering declared his motivation as a performer was to “entertain the youth of America from their drab, dull lives”. 

It’s funny that the very thing that makes TV Girl special is what acts as a detriment to live shows. Their heavy use of samples and distortion works wonders when blended softly with Petering’s vocals on a studio recording. It creates a synthesis to their recorded music that doesn’t translate well live. 

Their studio tracks are best suited for cozy spaces filled with cinematic nostalgia. But, vocals verging on sounding bored are not the energizing spirit needed for live performances. 

Setting aside their prerecorded tracks that didn’t fit seamlessly with live instrumentals, the concert felt as if it was being pulled in two different directions: one that wanted to lean into the sound of synthesizers and another that tended towards the direction of an acoustic set. 

The concert had a host of other issues, some of which were at no fault whatsoever to the band. Despite doors having supposed to be opened at eight, there seemed to be a lack of coordination between the venue and the performers. Times were staggered in an odd way that sucked some of the pre-concert energy that may have benefitted the sets. 

Perhaps the most glaring was the rigging of amps and mics. Jordanna opened for TV Girl with an acoustic set, and even the quietest conversations in the audience drowned out both her guitar and vocals. While fans strained to hear her set, they could however hear other audience members to be quiet. 

Despite some tumult, the show was redeemed by the accessibility of the band after their set. TV Girl exists in an odd contradictory stage of fame. By all means, they are an “indie” band. Only recently having gotten an agent, still playing small venues and having yet to top any charts, it would make sense that they interact so heavily with fans. 

Over the course of the last 18 months, they exploded on TikTok, granting them a unique kind of musical celebrity. Their song, “Not Allowed,” was used as an audio on the app over 60,000 times. Although they are bona fide celebrities among TikTok users, here I was, talking to their lead singer.