It was all apologies for San Fran band Girls as they kicked off the first of two dates in Vancouver on May 26 before hitting the five-month festival trail.
“Uhh, we haven’t played live in a month because we’ve been recording our new album,” mumbled singer Christopher Owens. “So you’ll have to excuse us if it doesn’t sound as tight as the Jonas Brothers…but then again, we don’t have backing tracks, so…”
Awww, what? No KevinJoeNick slickness? DISAPPOINTMENT! And where’s Hannah Montana when you need her?
But seriously. Vancouver’s swiftly becoming a bit of a “soft-launch” sort of city for bands both indie and ginormous that are looking for a way to ease into their tours with “no pressure”.
Fans say: “Woohoo! We get to see the first gig in a while!” Sceptics say: “Great. I’m watching a band’s rehearsal.” And if the trainingwheelness is confirmed by the band itself (as it was when I chatted with bassist JR White after the show – who apologized again for the gig’s unevenness and explained how tired he was), one can’t help but think, “errr, could I have a do-over?”
But Girls didn’t have to be so tough on themselves. Mostly the gig was a sedate, though still charming, runthrough. Debut album (called, er, Album) is a hodgepodge of 50s60s70s sockhop romance, stoner surfabilly and fuzz-pedal rock, so it was unsurprising the show followed an equally ragged road.
(What was surprising, however, was Owens’ hair. Formerly the owner of Rapunzel-like beach blonde locks, Owens now sports a poofy 80s-Anthony-Michael-Hall thing, and was dressed in high-waisted, rolled-up cream chinos and rolled-up shirtsleeves. The new look caused one audience member to lament: “WHAT DID HE DO? He had such beautiful hair!”. But she needn’t've panicked THAT much. He still has nice tattoos.)
ANYWAY. Girls’ songs typically have that “Gee, Beaver, let’s go for a root-beer float!” vibe about them, which, is actually kinda sweet. Owens’ natural inclination is to sing about girls, romance, summertime blues, hopes, fears, etc so first tracks “Laura”, “Ghost Mouth” “Heartbreaker” and “Headache” bopped, with JR nodding along sleepily, the “other three” keeping the pace and Owens holding one leg up in a sort of flamingo pose for most of the show. B-side “Solitude” was pure 60s harmonica prettiness. “Lust for Life”? A great indie summer song.
Yet it wasn’t until “Hellhole Ratrace” faded into the crunchy “Morning Light” that the mood (kinda thankfully, the audience were sorta getting too dreamy) shifted a gear. “Big Bad Mean Mother Fucker and “Lysandre” sounded tremendous and wrapped everything up in a thrift-store rock sweater. Nice little punk edge there, Girls, niiice.
But then, as if to remind us where their hearts really lie, came the ender: a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to do is Dream”. And we all sort of batted our eyelashes and swooned once more.
Beaver Cleaver: Do you really like me, Wally?
Wally Cleaver: I guess so.
Beaver Cleaver: Do you like me a whole lot?
Wally Cleaver: Look, don’t get sloppy on me. I might just slug you one. \m/
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