French-inspired dream pop is not a genre with many household names. Born out of San Diego in 2010, TV Girl has undoubtedly become a luminary band for this niche genre. TV Girl’s music is notably recognized by their use of obscure and peculiar samples ranging from Richard Nixon speech clips, to 80s feminist rap group the Yeastie Girlz, to an array of 1960s American films. Taking place at Black Cat on 14th Street, the venue’s quirky appearance seemed to be the perfect place for a band whose music pushes the bounds of their loosely defined genre. The stage was decorated with the iconic TV Girl logo, lit with multicolored flashing lights; it was minimal decor but perfectly matched the band’s aesthetic: dreamy, nostalgic, and effortlessly cool.
At no fault of the band’s, the crowd was homogenous: dozens of 17 year olds donning outfits and accessories straight from the first page of a “Y2K Inspo” search on Pinterest. This seemed to be a point of contention that Brad Petering, TV Girl’s frontman, had with the audience. He made incessant, back- handed comments about the band’s new-found success on Tik-Tok, brought about by “Not Allowed,” a track on their 2016 album Who Really Cares. My friend who saw their 21+ show in Philadelphia said that Petering kept making sly comments about how all the previous shows had been full of teenagers who were only there to hear the band’s “TikTok hit smashes.”
Petering clearly resents the fame brought about by the band’s success on the platform. I tried to empathize with him on these feelings: TV Girl’s lyrics are overtly sexual and personal, with clear allusions to his past tumultuous & complex relationships. Having high schoolers at your shows who are only there to hear their favorite TikTok sound could be disheartening. Conversely, one would think that as an artist, garnering a new fan base is exciting, even if it means sacrificing your carefully crafted fan- base and aura. I had the pleasure (not really) of meeting Petering after the show. His apathy and aloofness emanated far beyond his stage presence. My friend interviewed him, and received curt, boring answers. In the duration of our 10 minute interaction, I didn’t see the man crack a single smile. The conversation was awkward and hurried; talking to him felt like he had somewhere better to be.
Perhaps my complaints about the show are a veil for other issues: I am sick of the brand that Petering represents. Of course, a pseudo-psychedelic indie art pop group must have a very specific aura to maintain their formulated aesthetic, but this persona is getting very old, very fast. Additionally, I had high expectations for this show because TV Girl was the crux of my music taste in high school and I never had the opportunity to see them live. But as Lorde once said, “all the music you loved at sixteen you'll grow out of.” This experience solidified a brisk close to a chapter of my life that TV Girl once defined.
The entire experience seemed disjunct: the crowd to the music’s content, the band’s lackluster attitude to the airy French pop aesthetic of TV Girl’s music, Petering’s personality with the TV Girl persona. They always say not to meet your heroes. They never said not to go to their concerts though.
Dube is a Commentary Co-Editor and a Sophomore in the College study Sociology and Psychology.