Girl Band At Vicar Street – Review
Dublin indie noise quartet Girl Band have miraculously slipped into the mainstream rock scene over the past year, and for good reason. Their high gain abstract blend of noise rock is totally unique to anything going on in Ireland right now, and they’ve received their dues for it. Promising early EPs have led up to their long awaited debut, Holding Hands With Jamie, and now the group mark a new high with a sold out performance in Vicar Street.
Opening with a cacophony of looped feedback clips and blitzing visuals, ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage’ is the perfect opener. Dance drums and bass contrast starkly with the liquid lava guitar lines of Alan Duggan, while Dara Kiely’s drone vocals escalate to a powerhouse scream in the magnificent coda. The crowd respond in kind, with crowdsurfing and cheers of approval coming every few moments.
Older track ‘De Bom Bom’ sees Kiely come into himself more as the frontman, with frantic body movements accompanying his unconventional singing style. The tightness of the rest of the band is remarkable here, all totally in sync with each other. ‘Pears For Lunch’ is possibly the band’s most recognisable tune, and the crowd go nuts expectedly. As it is with many of their numbers, the drums drive the song almost independently. Both the bass and guitar spend most of the time creating wonderful noise with just the vocals and drums to lend structure. It works wonderfully mind you, and the refrain of ‘I look crap with my top off’ is sung back in numbers by the end of the tune.
Some of the newer tracks, however, don’t quite reach the same level the first few do. ‘Fucking Butter’ loses its way somewhat amidst the walls of noise, and ‘The Last Riddler’ is over before we can formulate any thoughts. Luckily, the dip doesn’t last long, and the banger that is ‘In Plastic’ brings the vibe back up with its quirky melodic eeriness. Kiely also showcases quite a charming vocal here, veering away from his usual screaming/talking method. It’s a nice change of pace, and serves as the highlight of the evening.
‘The Cha Cha Cha’ is a thirty second borderline pisstake of a tune, although amuses with over the top screaming, and ‘Lawman’ proves as another fan favourite, with the instantly recognisable drum beat and filthy baseline getting the crowd moving more than ever. The vaguely self deprecating lyrics aren’t anything to shout about, which goes for most of the tunes, but the simplicity wins over in the end. Closing with newer tracks ‘Paul’ and ‘The Witch Dr’, the gig ends on a tentative high. These are by no means their strongest tracks, so it’s a bit confusing as to why they finish like this. Nevertheless, the relentless wall of feedback we have enjoyed fades to nothing, and a humble thank you from the frontman leaves it at the hour mark.
While a tad frustrating and shapeless at times, the overall result of Girl Band’s Vicar Street debacle is utterly brilliant. It’s so exciting to see an Irish band so heavily rooted in the alternative scene do this well for themselves. Managing to fuse together Sonic Youth like guitar music with dubstep like dance music is no easy feat, but Girl Band manage to do it effortlessly and then some. This band’s identity is still somewhat of a mystery, but one can only hope they continue to let us watch them evolve into the beautiful monster they’re destined to become.