At first I have to say I was skeptical about seeing Girls live. I mean, their new album has backup vocalists and insane production, right? So how would this translate to a live show, would their performance be overshadowed by many layers of unnecessary frills and adornments? To my pleasant surprise none of that happened, and the band featured a traditional rock lineup that allowed the band to alternately rock out and perform touching and intimate ballads.
At the center of the show stood frontman Chris Owens (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) who played on his charismatic, poor-sensitive-alienated-guy vocal style and look to the best effects. His new haircut and slouch definitely seemed pretty Kurt Cobainish (just look at the pictures below), and if not for his quiet, awkward voice or his hipster belly-button revealing T-shirt, I would have felt as if I took a time machine back into the 90s.
Anyway, the show was great. They went through all of the classic tunes they accumulated through they years (in response to an audience’s request to play “that one hit”, Owens responded “they’re all hits man”), jumping from the upbeat and crowd favorite “Lust for Life”, to more intimate and emotionally gripping tracks like “Laura” (you must have a heart of stone if you don’t feel bad for Chris when he sings “Touch me I’m right here”), to newer material like the dramatic “Vomit” and the hedonistic-yet-sensitive classic-rocker “Honey Bunny” (with the memorable lyric “They don’t like my bony body/ Or my dirty hair”). All the material was performed flawlessly and showed that Girls are definitely one of the best (relatively) aging indie rock acts out there that are still really on top of their game.
I have to say I didn’t care that much about opening band Papa—their jazzy, emotional sound was pretty cool but ultimately didn’t stand out as that distinctive or memorable. The other opening band, Nobunny, put on a really cool set though. The frontman (guitar and vocals) came on stage in a pretty revealing suit comprising leather underwear and jacket, as well as a bunny mask, and played the coolest, queerest pop-punk rock that I heard since seeing Hunx and his Punx in April (covering their “You Don’t Like Rock n’ Roll” song). Unfortunately, the crowd seemed unwilling to let loose and engage in the moshing that would have probably been necessary to experience the band to the fullest extent.