Girl Band @ The Pav, Cork – Oct 3rd 2015

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Girl Band The Pav Cork Review
Picture courtesy of Brid O'Donovan. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Support From Paddy Hanna & The Altered Hours.

There was a certain celebratory mood in Cork’s regal live venue The Pav last Saturday night for Girl Band’s sold out return to the city. Gig organisers Southern Hospitality Board were celebrating their first birthday (well done Aisling!), main support The Altered Hours recently announced their debut album (due in January 2016), and the headliners have just released their pretty much universally acclaimed debut album Holding Hands With Jamie. For this atmosphere, a sold out Pav, with its ornate vintage architecture, was the perfect party setting for the Dublin based noise rock quartet to unleash their already legendarily intense live show.

Before that, Girl Band’s fellow Dubliners Paddy Hanna have the unenviable task of getting things started. Support slots are always tough, but playing to a venue that has yet to fill up makes it all the harder. Despite this, the quartet played their solidly rousing indie with aplomb, supported by some die-hard fans down the front.

Luckily, the Pav had filled out a bit by the time uptempo psychedelic goth rock of The Altered Hours hit the stage. The quintet gave it their all for their set, and the crowd responded to the effort by at times swaying and at other times getting a touch raucous as appropriate. Easily the high points are when vocals are shared. The dual male/female vocals intertwines over driving bass-lines and occasionally fuzzed up guitar offering a wonderful balance to sweet and not so sweet.

There’s not enough words in the English language to describe Girl Band’s weirdness. I’ll try. They are quirky, eccentric, unconventional, idiosyncratic (love that one), absurd, surreal, and peculiar. Essentially, they’re pretty far out. On their debut album Holding Hands With Jamie, and their EP The Early Years, their music churns and heaves discordantly and apparently at will with little regard for traditional song structure and things like conventional guitar chords. All the while, vocalist Dara Kiely’s stream of consciousness shouts drive the narrative which can range from body dysmorphia (“I look crap with my top off”) to rants about popular hazelnut chocolate spreads (“Nutella! Nutella! Nutella!”) and quintessential Irish lunch choices (“Chicken fillet roll! I don’t know!”).

This is ferocious and disconcerting enough on record, but live it is an even more unbalancing proposition which is complemented by Kiely hobbling onstage with the assistance of a crutch. I have no idea what happened to him, but as a prop it lends itself to the overall instability of the music. As the band pummel their way through recent singles ‘Paul’ and ‘Pears For Lunch’, Kiely flings himself around the stage, yanking at his t shirt as if he is attempting to escape his own body. Around him the rest of the band are conspicuous in the stationary delivery of their music. Having said this, wails and screeches emanate from the bass and lone guitar that I had no idea were possible, while the drums move from one beat to another with what seems like complete disregard for a coherent song structure.

To be fair the fans are equally unhinged as they scream and bounce their way along to ‘Umbongo’ and the utterly deranged ‘Fucking Butter’. There’s ripped shirts aplenty, crowd-surfing and at least one blood nose to be accounted for. To be fair, down the back there’s a fair few confused faces to be seen too. Probably completely mind blasted by what has just transpired before their eyes. I’m not surprised. Complete fucking chaos.

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