Vertigo Venus is an unapologetic promo machine. Overkill Internet campaigns swathe social networking sites until you feel you’ve been waterboarded into submission. Excessive, yes, but the outcome is massive support from a rabid fan base that loves the band’s punky synthpop goodness.
This has resulted in VV taking "Best Rock/Punk" production in this year’s New Mexico Music Awards. Entertainment is the band’s self-avowed business. The title of the band’s new CD-EP sums it up—SOS: Success or Suicide.
The recording is somewhat of a departure for Vertigo Venus. There’s increased “pro” production values thanks to Joey Belville (also on the July 9 bill with The Echoing Green). Sonically, an emphasis on industrial guitar riffs pushes aside dance elements, making way for a mosh-friendly energy. Dance geeks, don’t despair. I’ve yet to see a Vertigo Venus set that doesn’t offer an opportunity to shake a leg. On SOS, fans finally have a recording of the band’s ultimate dance-pop cover, Cyndi Lauper’s 1984 “She-Bop.”
Although Vertigo Venus has been around for years, its credentials increased dramatically after a two-month run as the house band in a 2008 stage production of Hedwig and The Angry Inch. Any band can churn out covers, but since the songs are integral to the play, there’s no room for interpretation or, for that matter, an off-night. The band has to “act” just as much as the rest of the cast. That’s somewhat true in any musical, but vital here, where the musical weight was carried by the group.
Joining VV Friday night are a couple of kindred bands. The Strand from Chandler, Ariz., is a six-piece industrial/dance group featuring alternately sweet and nasty vocals—male and female, respectively—and steampunk stage outfits. I’ve seen dueling descriptions of Albuquerque’s The Echoing Green as synthpop and psychedelic country. At this show, we’ll see which personality wins, or if it ends in a draw. Eschewing costumes and attitude altogether is everybody’s favorite local garage trash outfit The Scrams. Nothing gets in the way of the lo-fi wail, not even singer Joe Cardillo rolling off the stage, mic in hand. Working out to $1.75 per band, the entertainment value is a bargain. That should suit the promotional goals of Vertigo Venus just fine.