Indie pop band TV Girl, whose members consist of Brad Petering, Wyatt Harmon and Jason Wyman, has been around for eleven years, but it would be negligent to ignore TikTok’s profound contributions to their growing popularity recently. In the last year, some of the band’s music has gone viral on the app, launching tracks like “Not Allowed” into the spotlight. Despite their name and the fact that several of the band’s songs include women’s vocals, there are no girls in TV Girl. The illusion of a “TV Girl” is maintained through the incorporation of samples, back-up vocals, features and pitched-up alterations of Petering’s voice in the band’s music.
A running joke among fans is that, in reality, TV Girl looks a lot different than they had expected, something Petering did not shy away from poking fun at during the show. “I’m sorry about being older and uglier than you anticipated,” he joked.
At the event, which they named the 6 and ½ Year Anniversary of French Exit Tour, Jordana assumed the role of “TV Girl” by joining the band on bass and backup vocals. Lit by a blue spotlight, she opened the show with a solo set. Wearing a black button down shirt and jeans with her guitar strapped across her shoulders, she looked unassuming but was a powerful force onstage. Her clear, smooth voice commanded the concert hall, creating a calm and mellow atmosphere that prevailed over the eager crowd who was trickling in during her performance.
After playing “Forgetter,” “I Guess This is Life” and “Fuck You” off of her 2020 album Something to Say to You, Jordana ended her set with a cover of Coldplay’s “Sparks.” The crowd grew livelier as they emphatically cheered throughout her cover.
“Oh shit there’s a lot of people here,” Jordana said before exiting the stage. I took a look around and quickly discovered that she was right. The half-filled venue that I walked into was now completely packed.
The audience knew what was coming when the stage backdrop lit up red, illuminating an image of a woman. They screamed at the top of their lungs as TV Girl walked on stage with Jordana. Jumping right into “Pantyhose,” the crowd danced and sang along as the band set out to complete their mission for the night: perform the entirety of their album, French Exit.
“We’ll be doing all the TikTok smashes, all the album deep cuts, and even the ones you don’t like as much,” Petering announced, which was a pretty accurate summary of what was to come.
TV Girl and Jordana transitioned to fan-favorite “Birds Don’t Sing.” It was the perfect song choice to increase the crowd’s energy before moving on to some more tracks from French Exit. Following their performance of “Louise,” Petering addressed the TikTokers in the audience, asking them to use the next song, “Hate Yourself,” in a TikTok trend so that they can capitalize off of self loathing. As they performed, I couldn’t help but notice how Jordana interacted with the crowd by mouthing comments and singing directly to random audience members; it was something subtle that made the concert experience feel more immersive.
After “Hate Yourself,” Petering gave an appreciative speech in which he talked about how when French Exit was released in 2014, the band was not popular enough to bring their tour to Chicago. However, now, with a little research, it’s easy to find that Chicago is currently the group’s second most popular city on Spotify. Petering ended his expression of gratitude in a lighthearted manner. “It’s great to sell you guys the t-shirts you’ve always deserved,” he quipped before continuing on to “The Getaway,” which was followed by “Talk to Strangers,” one of my favorite performances of the night. The soothing melody juxtaposed with the sinister lyrics created an eerie ambience that then culminated into an eruptive ending that was as creepy as the song itself.
Invigorated by the performances of some more beloved tracks, including “The Blonde” and “Lover’s Rock,” the crowd enthusiastically participated in a mini Q&A session with Jordana as the rest of the band prepared for the next few songs. In case you were wondering, carrots are her favorite vegetable.
TV Girl and Jordana really stepped it up for the last couple of songs, giving the celebratory evening a memorable finale. “Come When You Call” was a standout of the night with its electrifying bassline and drum beat. Before reaching the end of their contractual obligation to play the entirety of French Exit, the group seemingly concluded their set with “Anjela.” People turned on their phone flashlights and ardently watched as Jordana and Petering closed out the performance by failing to successfully coordinate a jump off of the drum platform.
“We’ve reached the end of our contract so obviously we can’t play more,” Petering sarcastically said as they all walked off stage, only to come back seconds later for an encore. Frankly, I would have been terrified to experience the wrath of the teenagers at the show if the band neglected to play their viral TikTok hit, “Not Allowed,” which features samples from several songs by Yeastie Girlz. At this point, the audience’s liveliness had reached an all-time high. The energy in the theatre was palpable as Jordana and Petering performed a little choreographed number that charmingly ended with them joining their arms together to make a heart.
TV Girl and Jordana prefaced their final song of the show, “It Evaporates,” with a metaphor about love being like a river. It was some deep stuff.
Not only was the concert a heartwarming display of TV Girl’s growth throughout the years, but it was also a sweet portrayal of the band’s newfound collaboration with Jordana. Those interested in hearing more from Jordana and TV Girl can check out their latest collaborative EP called Summer’s Over.