Live Review

Girls, Bowery Ballroom, NY

Their easy melodies capture a certain bubble gum nostalgia of fifties boy/girl ballads, and perverts them in the best way possible.

Girls

are what the Beach Boys could have been had they grown up during the grunge era and been able to take drugs like normal kids without all the pressures of fame. Their easy melodies capture a certain bubble gum nostalgia of fifties boy/girl ballads, and perverts them in the best way possible.

On Friday night, front man Christopher Owens greeted the audience with an easy-going “Let’s just have fun, alright?” The band instantly collects itself and launches into the opener ‘Goddamn’. With an old school rock and roll line-up (two guitars, bass, drums, keys) Owens’ slightly androgynous voice began to extol the virtues of innocent desires.

During ‘Ghost Mouth’, their second song of the evening, a disco ball drops above the band, sprinkling the venue with the awkward longing of your first middle school dance. The song’s perfect nod to doo-wop key and chord changes mirrors the lyrics’ longing for motivation and returned attraction.

With phrases like, “Reach out and touch me, ” and “I really want to be your friend,” and an unusually easy ability to structure chords, Girls have a knack for pairing lyrics with music that independently evokes the same ethos of yearning. Though their songs conjure a certain West Coast breeziness, many of them also share a kind of dark lonely tension characteristic of the Velvet Underground’s poppier moments.

Owens dedicates the song ‘Summertime’ to the Smith Westerns, who are in attendance this evening, before playing ‘Hit It’, the first song Owens ever wrote. The song keeps with Girls’ general oeuvre, making you want to indulge in an extra long make out session with just about anyone. Later, during the danceable ‘Lust for Life,’ Girls elicit a sort of dancing that can only be described as mosh-bopping.

Having maintained an adorably deranged presence throughout the evening, the band surprise the audience by playing ‘Hellhole Ratrace’ (their most well known song) not as their encore, but as the second to last song of their set. However, they did encore with ‘Lauren Marie’ and the Daniel Johnston cover ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’, a song that exposes the hope at the heart of all Girls’ songs.

It’s nothing less than stunning how these musicians are able to encapsulate rock and roll’s debt to Western and soul without being derivative. While other bands’ familiarity can work against them, Girls just seem like an instant classic.

Tags: Girls, Features

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