Until Friday night, I hadn’t seen Girl Band play their own headline show, and despite briefer encounters at festivals, I wasn’t prepared for just how out of this world they were.
The Dublin band put together a great bill for a benefit in aid of Pieta House featuring their new Rough Trade label mates, Lynched, and Limerick trio Rusangano Family. There were also fun-filled DJ sets afterwards from Geoff Travis, Jeanette Lee and James Vincent McMorrow.
Girl Band are quite simply mind-blowing and one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. This one minute clip I filmed on my phone isn’t of fantastic quality, but it gives you an idea of their sheer raw power and the audience’s energy and love. Vicar St going completely batshit about thirty seconds in is a sight to behold.
Girl Band blow away anyone who encounters them live. They were one of the most talked about buzz bands of Field Day 2016 in Victoria Park, London. “The tent was jammed packed for them and so many people said to me they were the best band of the weekend,” Geoff Travis of Rough Trade told me, who, of course, signed the band to his label. “I really think the world will eventually come to them so it’s just a case of letting them work at their own pace. Thom Yorke and Tom Ravenscroft absolutely love them. It’s lovely that Tom Ravenscroft plays them every night on BBC 6 because you can imagine they are the kind of thing his father John Peel would love.”
Travis fell head over heels in love with Girl Band on first sight in Brighton. “I read about them a little bit and then I went to see them at the Great Escape,” Travis says. “They played a place called the Haunt about three years ago. I got there early and they were on first. I was totally smitten by them immediately and they’ve just got better and better. The are also a credit to your nation because they’re just the best four people you could ever meet in terms of the way they are as people, how they carry themselves and their discipline and work ethic. They really care about each other in way that is quite rare amongst men in general, whatever about bands. Bands are notoriously dysfunctional and nobody ever really confronts any real issues. I don’t know what they talk about amongst themselves all the time but they really strike me as completely the opposite. They’re real men and strong, but have huge emotional intelligence. You can hear that in the music and the way they interact with each other. When the four of them play together the music supports each other.”
On Friday, it was often impossible to discern what exactly they were doing. “They are a well-oiled futuristic machine and it’s quite shocking how well they understand everything,” Travis agrees. “People think it’s chaos but it’s completely controlled. It’s quite a remarkable feat. It’s easy to make noise like a jet engine with out of control feedback. but Girl Band have great depth and it’s amazing to witness. They are undoubtably one of the best bands on the planet. There’s a primal rock n’ roll thrill you get from seeing them that you just don’t get anymore. I also love their use of language. It is so funny and imaginative. It’s almost like they’ve got their own language. I love them and I wish I could see them every night. I’d probably go deaf, but they’re not as loud as Dinosaur Jr or My Bloody Valentine. I think Kevin (Shields) of My Bloody Valentine takes sadistic pleasure in making their audience go deaf and deliberately tries to get half the room to leave. I think it’s half the fun for him.”
Girl Band are the latest of a lineage of great Irish bands that include My Bloody Valentine, Whipping Boy and Rollerskate Skinny. They also make some of the best music videos in the world right now. Check out ‘Pears for Lunch’, below, for proof.
To my ears at least, Girl Band are the finest musical export to crawl out of this country since Villagers. I can’t wait to see them again.
Girl Band play Garbo’s, Castlebar on Friday, April 7 and Dolan’s, Limerick on Saturday, April 8. For tickets and further information visit http://girlband.ie/