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Girl Band play unforgettable, full-capacity show at Hello 2015

Dublin group’s closing set at London’s The Old Blue Last is backed by Demob Happy, Ex’s and Bruising.

When they started out, there was a nonchalance to Girl Band’s delivery. Stabbing industrial punk tracks were performed with a hands-in-pockets, much of a muchness. Nice jumpers, nasty songs - there was a sense of courtesy to the Dublin group, running counter to a maddening, death chamber sound.

Now there’s a spring in their step. Dara Kiely and co. at least look like they’re beginning to grasp just how far they can truly go. Tonight isn’t the first time they’ve had hundreds queueing round the corner to get into The Old Blue Last, but the difference between now and this time last year is momentous. Not only do they have a record deal under their belts - there’s a swagger to their every move, reality biting down on a fresh wound.

Just imagine what could happen next: Girl Band still don’t possess twenty-plus songs. They’re yet to invest in a grimy backdrop or even a projection that screens out nightmarish images (it’s a must, when the time comes). They still don’t have arena experience under their belts. Half of the world’s fests haven’t bothered to give them a look-in. The upside? Barring some bonkers self-destruction, all of this will come. Everyone witnessing the close of Hello 2015 knows it.

What emerges before is more a series of possibility. Leeds group Bruising could go one way or the other: Submerged in fuzz and sweet but bloodthirsty hooks, or the opposite way - melody leading the course, songs simmering down. The opening act hint at both throughout their set, tracks like ‘Think About Death’ and debut single ‘Can’t You Feel’ being a gorgeous balancing act between the two distinct worlds. On tonight’s evidence, although it’s rough-edged early days, they look capable of embracing just about anything.

The same goes for following act ex’s, whose noir-ish, romantic idealism runs counter to a heavy, shoegaze-inclined sound. “I wanna get inside your mind,” their frontman declares midway through a set that nods to the ‘90s while surging forward in one swift move. By the time they’re finished, they’ve left an impact, even if - like Bruising - they’re yet to fully settle on one given direction.

As for Demob Happy, the Brighton group seem fully aware of where they’re heading. Matt Marcantonio is a six-foot-plus, overpowering character. When the melee reaches fever pitch, he’ll gruff about wanting to “get stoned on marijuana” in deep-toned sarcasm. The brilliance of 2014 go-to anthem ‘Succubus’ threatens to boil over, but there’s a constant sense of control, restraint exercised with every move. Like tonight’s headliners, Demob flick the on and off switch with constant rotation.

It’s this grip-like power over the crowd that defines Girl Band’s set. Dara Kiely can go from scruffing his hair to barking non-sensical screams of panic in a split-second, those in attendance following every move. At times it’s like witnessing a public meltdown or a call for distress. Brutally sharp guitar parts jolt back and forth, the frontman’s cries frantically trying to keep up. By the end, it feels like being put through a spike-laced washing machine at full speed - only you want more, physically deprived by the time their all-too-short set comes to a close. Nothing compares to the experience.

Head to diymag.com/presents for all DIY’s upcoming shows, including Girl Band and The Magic Gang for Roundhouse Rising.

Photos: Carolina Faruolo

Tags: News, Hello 2015

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