“They’re so sexy” roars a man in a Harrington jacket before he launches himself into one of the mini circles of death that have cropped up. He’s right – Girl Band have just tramped in the side entrance and open with ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage’ with a drum like a jackhammer. Their performance at Vicar Street is pretty sexy. Sexy in a self-conscious “I haven’t done this in awhile but I’ll do this just for you” kind of way. It’s a relief to see the crowd’s reaction to them, beset with illness and suffering through the grief that ensues after months of gig cancellations, the band deserve appreciative onlookers.
And appreciative they are, many a Harrington jacket tries to crowd surf its way onto the stage and everyone else screams, swears and head-bangs. ‘Pears For Lunch’ clearly strikes a chord as the audience roar “I look crap with my top off” and ‘Lawman’’s “I used to be good looking” right back on top of them, while the track ‘Fucking Butter’ leaves the word “Nutella” upon everyone’s lips and 30 second joke ‘The Cha Cha Cha’ causes a smile to creep onto their faces.
The band seem genuinely amazed by this reaction. This sellout show is their first hometown gig since 2014 and their largest yet. They must have assumed that the Dublin music scene had moved on without them in their absence, but with a Choice Music Prize nominated debut album like Holding Hands With Jamie, that just isn’t possible. Writhing, fearless and strange, the quartet are like no other band in the country right now. Their unforgettable blend of Sonic Youth-like noise-rock with the vocal drone liken to The Fall is just the off-kilter sound that resonates and sticks.
Girl Band swell the darkly packed room up with a wall of jagged thumping sound and reverb tonight which rarely ceases. They have no problem keeping the crowd’s attention either, with every eye on the multicoloured light that hits the four skinny Dublin lads producing this post-punk assault. They hit every note with the precision heard on their album and EPs, every amp-fart and flat-line drum beat can be heard. The only exception is ‘In Plastic’ where lead singer Dara Kiely replaces his trademark caterwauling with singsongy melancholy for a charming rendition. The band sound completely in-sync with one another, every drum beat and guitar line hit the vocals completely.
Kiely’s potent delivery has no problem being heard against the distorted guitars and relentless drums. Live, he takes the lyrics to a new level of intensity as he quakes with feeling for what he’s singing. He gutters “covered in sudocrem and talking to myself” from ‘Pears For Lunch’, looking like he has just wiped the sudo off while he kicks the ground, closes his eyes and it’s completely convincing.
His ease as a performer has seemingly been to be put to the test at this gig. It’s hard not to notice his anxiety, as he ruffles and pulls at his hair and magics his top on and off. Interactions with the audience are kept to pleasantries and gushes of thanks. Interaction with each other outside of the music doesn’t appear very much either, with some of the band nearly edging into the darkness at points without much notice.
The set ends just at the hour mark, the time of dank, guttural anger ends and the crowd are left in ringing silence. All anyone can do is shake their heads, turn to one another to say how sexy it’s been and limp outside.