Back in August of 2009, I caught Girls open for Los Campesinos!
to a half full Detroit Bar. Totally different scene last night. Kicking off a tour that culminates with an appearance at Coachella, the hotly tipped and recently OC Weekly featured
Girls easily packed the place. With their debut disc Album
receiving serious accolades from Pitchfork
, New York Times
and basically every other major publication with an eye on music, there aren't many, if any, indie bands with more buzz at the moment than this San Francisco act.
Front man Christopher Owens was the last person to take the stage when Girls came on around 11:30 p.m. One immediately detects a fragile vulnerability about him, as he frequently brushed aside his strands of long, wavy, unkempt hair while tuning his Rickenbacker guitar. Shimmering guitar chords started to eminate from his amplifier outlining the skeleton of "Ghost Mouth." Chet "JR" White stoically plucked away at his bass, keeping the groove while drummer Garett Godard laid down a shuffling beat.
Over the jangly guitar of "Laura" Owens emphatically pleaded "I don't want to fight anymore," girls, perhaps not quite grasping the meaning of the lyric, swooned behind me and shouted out that it was their favorite song. "Darling" had a Southwestern vibe with its twangy guitar solo by Ryan Lynch. The juxtaposition of delicate melodies and haunting lyrics made "Solitude" live up to its title. "Hell Hole Rat Race" started off deceptively with a narcotic haze of swirling sounds but ultimately exploded into a vortex of noise. A similar performance of the song should grab hundreds of fans at Coachella.
Delving into the darker side of their sound, "Morning Light" picked up were "Hell Hole Rat Race" left off with sonic shards washing over the crowd. The audience favorite was easily "Lust For Life," which rivals the Smiths in terms of sounding sunny while delivering gloomy sentiments. Having nowhere to go offstage, Girls went straight into an encore of "Life In San Francisco" and the '50s distorted pop tones of "Big Bad Mouthfucker." In comparision to the other times I saw Girls, it was their most lucid and solid performance yet. A hoard of fans congratulated the band as they exited the stage.
Hunx and his Punk played an entertaining set that would have gone over better at an all ages venue like the Smell in downtown Los Angeles. Smith Westerns seemed a little shellshocked by not being able to soundcheck earlier in the day and had some gear problems. Unfortunately, the band had to end their set just as they started to catch fire. The Crowd:
Having frequented Detroit Bar quite often, it didn't seem like the "regular" crowd. It was especially gratifying to see one extremely drunken patron get kicked out for overtly heckaling Smith Westerns. People like that cause bands to skip the Detroit Bar on future tours, so it was refreshing to see the situation handled appropriately. Overheard:
When I asked a girl in the front row if she has seen the band before she responded "I've seen them eight times." That is what I call dedication.