GIRLS – Christopher Owens and JR White – played Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret last week, and there’s really only one way to describe the show: MENTAL.
The place was rammed full, hipsters and stoners were piling on top of each other to get near rock and roll’s best-known former sex cult youth/opiate addict, and everyone decided that Tuesday night was as good as any to get fucked up. Including… and I’m just guessing here ….GIRLS themselves. Here’s my play by play of a truly epic gig…in pictures.
I find GIRLS’ head waif Chrisopher Owens standing off to the side with a whiskey in one hand and pills in the other. I go to introduce myself and gush all over him about how stunning the new album, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is. I extend my hand to shake his but he’s got the pills he’s about to take so we kinda hold wrong hands instead. Christopher Owens’ hands are soft. He’s sweet and kinda dazed. He joins us side stage to watch openers Sonny & The Sunsets and starts talking to a girl next to me and stonedly plays with a tiny maraca hooked on to her purse. She doesn’t realize who he is until she notices that everyone across the room is staring at them. It clicks in. “He’s kinda sweet,” she says to me afterwards. “I don’t think he’s gay. But he is stoned.”
GIRLS come on and play “Darling” from Album …it’s tighter than what I remember from last year’s outing…and then they go right into “Honey Bunny”, the radio-friendly poptart that all the kids new to the band have now glommed onto, and which is a damn fine lust for love song. It’s surprising to hear the “big new hit” so early in the set but it sets the crowd off. WTF? People are moshing at a GIRLS concert? Seriously? No, really….SERIOUSLY?
…but JR just sorta keeps his head down….even through the poppy “Alex” which comes next. It’s all sounding rather….
…playful. And acting playful are Christopher and new guitarist Evan Weiss, who seem quite taken with each other, goofing off through the set, leaning against each other, trading licks and gurning. Awwwww.
I’m protected from the moshpit – again I ask: WTF MOSHPIT? – in the front by the heavily pregnant woman next to me. That’s right: THE HEAVILY PREGNANT WOMAN. She’s sitting on the amp case we share IN THE FRONT ROW and her husband is absorbing the bouncing freaks around us. That’s her hand. She’s a big fan, apparently. Literally.
The flowers were a really nice touch. All fresh, all pretty, all taped to the mic stands. I was given the puffy blue one afterwards.
The flowers also had a magical effect on a bunch of stoned kids in the front row, who literally climbed over each other to smell and stick their faces in them. High much? And see that guy on the left swooning over Christopher? Remember him. He’ll be back later.
Here’s the-not-so puffy blue one, playing through the slow tracks. “Love Like a River” and “My Ma” kinda lag but “Laura” and “Lust for Life” pick it up again. Just in time for Christopher to take a seat and sign an autograph in the middle of the set….oh and do this:
Christopher Owens really liked that girl with the tiny maraca. And/or the pills were kicking in.
Remember that guy I told you about before? Stoner duuuuude? Yeah, that’s him again. Tripping out. Minutes before he – and I am not exaggerating here – passed out on top of Christopher’s amp. AWESOME!
“She don’t like my bony body/She don’t like my dirty hair…” Okay, somebody please feed him? Take care of him? Feed him some more? And just as I’m thinking that it’d be really sad to lose a talented kid to addiction, the set runs parallel to my brain and turns kinds of intense. “Vomit” goes into “Substance” and hearts and brittle things break around us. The room sways. GIRLS sway. “Saying I Love You” lightens the mood, but HURRAH! It’s time….
….for “Die”. Yay! Which, in its all-kinds-of-darkness, is probably the best thing of the night. It’s ENORMOUS and devilish and loud and rattles the walls. It’s a messy, messy beast. Brilliant stuff. And Christopher’s suitably looking possessed.
But JR’s keeping his head down again. They’ve got to get through “Morning Light” which Christopher wraps up by taking his guitar off and stabbing the low ceiling with it. The band disappears for a bit, and Chris heads into the loos. But then comes back, solo, and looking a little worse for wear. Adorable. But, uh, wasted.
“The last song was don’t let anyone take advantage of you”, he totally slurs, smiling at the crowd who are equally wankered. He plays with his hair. And wasn’t he wearing those weird high-waisted beige trousers last time too? Yeah, yeah he was.
So he starts into “Jamie Marie” but it’s sloppy. “It totally doesn’t have to sound so fucking bad,” he says, and starts it over again. Everyone laughs. They didn’t notice BECAUSE THEY ARE STONED, the lucky students with nowhere to be the next day. The second attempt is more…dramatic. Christopher seems to be throwing in theatrical hand gestures as he strums.
By this point the band have joined him back on stage. JR looks on bemusedly and they launch into “Hellhole Ratrace”.
…which melts everyone’s faces. Even that playful Evan and Christopher again!
Fuck being bemused. This is totally amusing, right, JR? And “Ratrace” is sounding…fun. Messy, but fun. Like the guy on the ground….
….who’s wrestling with his guitar and demons.
And who then decides to sorta strum himself to sleep near the end of the song. Hey! It’s comfortable down there. But the song ends, Christopher sort of gets up, heads to the back of the stage, and then, in the shadows, nearly collapses and has to be propped up by a mate.
Weird, wonderful set, GIRLS. Totally mental. Now go easy, ‘kay? \m/
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