Girls, Young Man, Fanfarlo, Unknown Mortal Orchestra Fitzgerald's March 13, 2012
San Francisco's Girls kept it going strong last night, touring in support of their album Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Another vaunted acted of the Pitchfork set, they held up even better live than their 9.3 album prepared me for.
I had checked out their set lists from some recent shows so I had resigned myself to not hearing much from their debut, Album, but much to my surprise the kicked off their set with a souped-up rendition of "Ghost Mouth," one of my favorites from that release.
In fact, these guys were busting out with all the hits, delivering an all-too-short take of "Lust for Life" (theirs, not Iggy's) that got the packed house dancing their asses off in the home stretch.
While the band was setting up their gear, they were also busy making adding a decorative touch to the stage, arranging flowers on the mike stands and atop the amps and keyboards. I appreciate the effort to cultivate a visual air of beauty, it matched the swirling, dreamy aura of their sounds.
I certainly forgot that I was missing Jesus and Mary Chain over at House of Blues.
I've previously written about the "90's thing" that's going on in music today, and Girls are definitely one of the current bands breathing new life into a nostalgic device. While there's no doubt that the Beach Boys and Elvis Costello figure into their sound, it's filtered through the mid-90's Britpop prism -- even down to their appearance, Christopher Owens reminding me of Tim Booth from James.
Following "Ghost Mouth" they bopped through "Alex" and "Honey Bunny", bringing the tone down a bit with "My Ma" before picking it back up with "Heartbreaker". Almost immediately they dropped the tempo again with "My Love is Like a River", bringing to mind The Beatles' version of "You've Really Got A Hold On Me".
They trudged through the heroin/sorrow-soaked "Vomit" like Lou Reed on a Perfect Day before kicking into the psychedelic freakout of "Die," which if you've never been to San Francisco, this is what it sounds like. After the aforementioned "Lust," the set included "Laura" and "Caroline". They closed out the show with the rager "Morning Light".
Towards the end of the set a fight broke out and if I left to early and missed an encore, I regret it, but there's just something about a guy getting jammed into a police car while his girlfriend insists it was the bouncer's fault that's hard to turn away from.
Going into the show, I had expected a nice evening of indie rock but I walked away with much more than just a pleasant experience. Of the opening acts, the only I had previously heard of was Fanfarlo, but I hadn't exactly gone so far as listening to them. Fortunately, the three bands joining Girls last night brought their A-game.
One thing that struck me as odd was the huge gap of time in between acts. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was glad there was time in between bands to slip downstairs and catch some of the great show that was going on down there. I almost wish I could have been in both places at once!
Young Man, from Chicago, kicked off the set and I was quite impressed. Strikingly reminiscent of The Stills, this is a band I hope to see more of. I'll forgive them for the jam-bandy breakdown and willy-nilly use of the arpeggiator on the keyboard.
They're currently on tour with the second act, Fanfarlo, a Swedish band by way of England who totally nail this Arcade Fire-meets-Talking Heads thing that perhaps makes each song sound like a different take on "Dream Operator," but that doesn't sound like a problem to me.
Finally, just before Girls went on was a surprisingly brief set from New Zealand by way of Portland's Unknown Mortal Orchestra. A friend of mine remarked that she got on her tippy-toes to do a tunic check on the lead singer (the place was PACKED).
So, tunics in tow, red stage light blaring, the band was more Apples in Stereo than Brian Jonestown (much to my husband's chagrin, as I recall him saying "more like Crapples in Stereo"). But whatever you want to call it, it was pleasing to me.
Personal Bias: I fucking love Girls. I'd take any excuse to go to their show.
The Crowd: Houston hipster, which means Brooklyn hipster circa 2009. Has Hot Topic gone hipster yet or are they still on the chubby virgin-gamer kick? Who knows?
Overheard in the Crowd: "I better get back to my boys since one of them bought me a ticket, they can all twist up together in my bed later." - A fancy young lady, apparently fresh from a photo sesh with Terry Richardson.
"We've got rats!" and then later "I'm gonna go cuddle with the rat." - A young man with an infestation.
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"¿Puedes ponerlo en la lista?" - A Spanish-speaking fan trying to enjoy the show with a friend. (Glad my Spanish class is paying off.)
Random Notebook Dump: Apparently, when they weren't smoking weed, the crowd smelled like a high school boyfriend...in a good way. Also, something very crude my husband said about using a vagina to dampen the reverb and something that either he or Jacob Calle said about seeing Robin Williams and Rancid eating together in San Francisco and asking to borrow their pepper as an excuse to meet them. Also, the "no flash" rule made it incredibly difficult to get good pictures.