I’m gonna wager that most Bruise Cruisers, up till all hours Friday night at the black jack tables, grooving to a late set from Quintron and Miss Pussycat, or unwinding in one of the Carnival Imagination’s several hot tubs, weren’t up in time to see the ship’s 9 A.M. arrival in the Bahamas on a near perfect Saturday with a clear blue sky. But to be fair, only a couple of hours later the early risers were up, with the deck chairs fairly dominated by pink bracelet-sporting Bruisers.
And who should we encounter in the pool but none other than the Charlie’s Angels of lo-fi indie pop, the women of Vivian Girls. There, an elated Katy Goodman said, “This is far surpassing my expectations.”
It was the first time on a cruise ship for Cassie Ramone, although she confessed, “As a little girl, I had this fantasy of going on a cruise and meeting a handsome stranger and falling in love. That part hasn’t happened yet.” On a more serious note, the newest Vivian, New Zealander Fiona Campbell, said that only two weeks ago she had played with her other band The Coolies at the very epicentre of this week’s devastating earthquake, but that everyone she knew in Christchurch was OK.
Back in paradise, we encountered Greg Enlow from Strange Boys, recovering from a rager of a night, and his more reserved front man Ryan Sambol, who, when informed that he seemed to just be going with the flow amidst the kitsch and umbrella drinks, replied, “Do I have any choice?”
“Cruise Director”, the singular Ian Svenonius, was his usual nattily dressed self. The Black Lips, whose Vice label head Suroosh Alvi had winged in for the day, were off to shoot a music video on the island, and over in the Xanadu Lounge, two Floridian bands held things down. Miami locals Jacuzzi Boys delivered the bounce-scuzz and impressed more than a few seeing them for the first time, while the band that recorded “Floating Vibes”, West Palm’s Surfer Blood, followed. “I’m definitely getting some island vibes from you guys,” pronounced JP Pitts, “and I recognize some of you from last night. That was me in the casino winning all the money.”
Saturday night meant the entire gang disembarking onto the island for what was really the cruise’s central event – a four-band lineup at Nassau port watering hole Señor Frog’s. For the uninitiated, Frog’s has locations at many of the cruise ship ports of call across the Caribbean, and it’s the sort of place where conga lines, shots down your throat and super-sized whalebone drinks are de rigueur, where barstools look like asses in thongs and you can get your picture taken under a sign that reads “Going Commando”. Into this spring break-ready atmosphere entered Turbo Fruits, cruise captain Jonas Stein’s no-nonsense dirty rock outfit; Austin’s delightfully bent and bluesy Strange Boys; and the kings and queens of this floating prom, The Black Lips and Vivian Girls.
Fiona got into the spirit by arriving in a sailor’s cap, and proceeded to fire up her band with genuine muscle. The girls have spent the past few months apart, and their new enthusiasm and energy rendered this almost a new band. New songs from the upcoming album Share the Joy were scorching, particularly “The Other Girls”, a six minute-plus tune with Cassie on a blistering solo, while older tunes like “Wild Eyes” had new life, and the set wound up perfectly with – what else – the girls’ take on Celine Dion’s cruise ship classic, “My Heart Will Go On”.
Next up were the Lips, another band returning from a hiatus and with a new album due in April, and their set included even more new songs – a half-dozen by my count, including a couple of instant favorites, alongside the eternal “Dirty Hands” and “Bad Kids”.
That left only DJ Jonathan Toubin’s Soul Clap and Dance Off contest, hosted by Svenonius, and for which yours truly was a judge. Some were impressive, others just OK, and our winner? Number 3. I didn’t catch her name, but she did herself and Señor Frog’s proud.
That's all for Saturday in beautiful Nassau, Bahamas. Down below, you can watch my poolside chat with the Vivian Girls. You can also check out a slideshow of all of Rubes' photos from the day.
Stop by Noisevox tomorrow to read about our final full day with the Bruise Cruise crew, and don't forget to check out our coverage of the Thursday pre-cruise party in Miami and our first day on board.