Girl Band are a scuzzy noise band, heavy on the guitars & comparable to early Nirvana. With no girls in. We check out their gig at The Trof.
Manchester’s Trof is most well-known (by me at least) for doing cracking Sunday roasts and interesting beers, but tonight the Fallowfield branch plays host to one of 2013’s up and coming bands, Girl Band (who are actually all guys) on their first tour of England.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Courtney
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Dublin four piece, and not just because of their penchant for experimenting with effects pedals. They’ve been bigged up by super cool music websites The Quietus and Drowned in Sound and NME named them one of the most exciting new bands of 2013. Their 2012 EP France 98 is 21 minutes of scuzzy hooks, furious drums and vocals that call to mind Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. They’ve also been compared to early Nirvana. However when asked if they can feel the hype around them, bass player Daniel Fox replies “No… We’re just glad people are showing up!”.
Fallowfield is a heavily studenty area of Manchester and it is generally filled with people who delight in liking obscure bands who would have lapped up Girl Band. Unfortunately they are playing during the month of dissertation deadlines and exam revision (Fox tells me soundchecking was awkward due to all the revising patrons. “I just kept thinking ‘Sorry! Sorry!'”) and the crowd suffers for it. The guys end up playing to a small audience that includes their sound guys, friends and support act The Karate Suit as well as me and several others.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Courtney
This, combined with the fact that singer Dara Kiely is battling a cough and sore throat, could have led to a disheartened performance. Thankfully, these fears prove to be unfounded. Girl Band do not half-arse this show.
Beginning with EP opener ‘You’re a Dog’, a foot-stomping dirge with a nagging hook, they power through the seven song set, stopping only to chat and laugh at each other. As well as EP tracks ‘France 98’, ‘Busy at Maths’ and ‘Handswaps’ they play two new songs, ‘Law Man’ and set highlight ‘Heckle the Frames’, a furious, energetic track that is definitely single material. They finish up with their blistering cover of Blawan’s techno tune ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’ It runs to nearly eight minutes and is clearly made for a room packed with sweaty people to jump and down to frantically while Kiely screams as if his life depends on it, which to his credit, he totally does anyway.
Girl Band are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The vocals often take a back seat to the guitar and it is quite unashamedly the sort of thing that someone’s Mum might call “a din”. This can make it quite difficult for the tracks to stick in your head. However, they are definitely worth watching live. Every member of the band is top-notch at what they do and the songs somehow become much more danceable when heard live.
It’s also quite obvious that the guys love making music together and they’re fun to watch as a group. If you can get yourself to one of their gigs, I would highly recommend them.
Photo credit: aidankellymurphy.com