Girl Band, Dublin's Anarchic Four-Piece, Takes America
Girl Band, the Dublin-borne four piece which has steadily earned an international audience since its inception three years ago, are on stage just minutes ahead of Friday, March 13th, giving America -- the subject of that cheers to liberty frontman Dara Kiely offered, holding aloft a can of Modelo -- its first treatment to the band's singular sandblast of maniacally contained noise.
Hours earlier, Girl Band sat in the spartan green "room" (a restaurant booth behind a curtain, tucked to the side of Sysco food staples and stacked bar stools) of Baby's All Right, a venue in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, just after their soundcheck. Guitarist/co-manager Alan Duggan and Kiely walked through their first experiences of America-via-New York (a city roughly as representative of America as a steroidal wolfhound is representative of dogs generally). "Sometimes, when you're sitting around and having a few drinks," says Duggan, "it's like, 'This year has been a bit weird.' Like yesterday, we were walking in Times Square, like, 'This is pretty class.' We did just get here purely on the music, and now we're sitting in New York."
"From listening to hip-hop growing up to watching Friends," says Kiely, "I was in a taxi last night, and I said something to the taxi driver, and he actually said 'Get outta here!' That was the first time anyone had ever said that to me."
Kiely and Duggan, bassist Daniel Fox and drummer Adam Faulkner got from Dublin to their bodega sandwiches through a very gradual, purposeful build -- notable, for a band which serves up such red-lined tumult -- beginning with the release of the grungy, relatively straightforward France 98 in 2012. "We kind of felt like we were moving past that kind of thing," says Kiely, of why they chose to document that stage of their songwriting. It was one that wasn't to last, as good as it may have been.
A 2013 cover of "Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage," a song first released by producer Blawan, was transformed by Girl Band into a meditation on massive build and release, via pedal-mediated aggression, giving the lads a template and a bearing that they would use to propel their work into a sort of inescapable gravity chamber.
Months before they took the stage at Baby's All Right, Girl Band's first stateside shows were canceled due to an ornery visa processor, who took the hundreds of pages of press and the photos of the band performing at festivals like Primavera as hardly impressive enough to be allowed to cross the pond. "Like, we haven't been a band that long," says Kiely, "we're doing our best! It was pretty rotten. But the second time we got it, it was great. For some reason it just got accepted in five days."
On stage, three out of four are cooled and focused and distant, staring off as their amplifiers oozed and shrieked. Kiely himself is charismatic and aloof, no a golden god and no apparent desire to be one, but seemingly at ease, whispering and wailing. "I used to be good looking!"
A co-ed mosh pit emerged; Kiely looked off and constantly sipped beer and delivered his conversational koans, just before jerking into paroxysms around many a crescendo. Fox calmly bashing the speakers into submission. Faulkner side-headed and metronomic. The confidence and professionalism was beyond their years. There will be many more.