I saw Christopher Owens play live last night in London with his band Girls.
For a band that has twice featured in the Top Ten of Pitchfork’s Best Album end of year poll, Girls are keeping their ankles pretty well hidden from the outside world. Last night’s gig at the Kentish Town HMV Forum (always the Town and Country Club to me) wasn’t exactly accompanied by a media blitz. Shame.
Maybe it’s the difficulty that people have in Googling them: particularly on a work computer with an attentive firewall and strict internet usage policy, or for those at home who have a jealous girlfriend or wife.
“It’s an indie band” you pathetically cry as your boss or loved one gives you a hurt look as the Google search results to “Girls” somehow miss the object of your quest, and just bring up a ton of filth.
There must also be people who start searching for “Girls live” with the best of intentions and end up three hours later having been mortally distracted and forgetting what they were searching for in the first place. That’s my excuse, anyway.
These are Girls, however, that are worth having a fling with. (OK – let’s stop the Girls analogies).
The band, from San Francisco, consist primarily of two people (singer / guitarist Christopher Owens and bassist and producer Chet “JR” White), although last night we were treated to an eight piece band including three backing singers.
The band have a sound that blends Teenage Fanclub with Elvis Costello into a shoegaze version of The Beach Boys. Owens has a sleepy but appealing vocal style like he’s just woken up from a deep golden slumber and there’s plenty of depth and variety in the songs, from bouncy jangle-pop to the Heavy rock of Die – a melody which Deep Purple used to play, only they called it Highway Star.
Sadly, Die didn’t feature in last night’s set, but highlights did include the surf-rock sounds of Honey Bunny, the bouncier-than-Tigger Lust For Life (not the Iggy tune), some great extended jamming through Forgiveness and, mid-set, the charmingly titled Vomit, during which one of the three backing singers knocked the crowd sideways with some of the most stunning gospel wailing since The Great Gig in the Sky.
Although not the most talkative, peering out from beneath his blond curls and Rickenbacker guitars, Owens was a charismatic frontman and by the end of the night the band left the stage showering flowers over the appreciative audience. Funny. I always thought it was supposed to be the other way round…
Girls are touring Europe supporting their Father, Son, Holy Ghost LP.
UPDATE: 6th July 2012: Sad to say these guys appeared to have split up, judging by Owens’ Tweet last night….
Record #50: Girls – Honey Bunny