Girl Band – Hare and Hounds, Birmingham (22nd Jan 2017)

Birmingham’s Hare and Hounds pub is probably the ideal place to discover new music. Out of the way, distant from the inner city bustle, another kind of chaos emerges. With everything you’d expect from your typical pub, however this pub has two intimate rooms upstairs that are host to some of the best live music that passes through the midlands. On this occasion Dublins Girl Band were gracing the larger of the two rooms with their raw wall of distortion. 

First though it was up to Goat Girl to warm the crowd. With two singles released towards the end of last year on Rough Trade they were a perfect fit for this bill. Lyricism that is unapologetically filthy and guitars that act like a country musicians opiate infused nightmares, they’re certainly shaking up the sounds stretching from South London right now, and rightly so.

After lurking somewhere in the back of the room Girl Band worked their way through the patiently waiting crowd and up on to the stage. The band’s front and howling vocalist Dara Kiely stands in the centre of the stage, back to the crowd as the non-stop strumming of “Umbongo” begins. The drums add an almost techno-esque undertone that throbs throughout until there’s an immediate break and Kiely’s body becomes a puppet, controlled by the wave of distortion that is the puppeteer throwing his body around.

As the show goes on it’s time for some inter-song craic, which is completely bizarre. The almost unadulterated charm of Kiely’s humour is in utter juxtaposition to the violent nature his body is suddenly distorted by the music. It’s like watching an exorcism of devilish tunes, that once finished is restored to a child-like state.

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The twisted show of fragmented thoughts continues. But only for a brief moment, the shortest track of their discography “The Cha Cha Cha”, at only thirty seconds long incites a small riot. With one member of the audience, ear flush to the amp, jumping aimlessly. Dreaming of permanently perforated eardrums as the track’s amplitude staggers upwards in three stages before cutting to an abrupt end.

They close with their two most notorious tracks, the first being “Why They Hide The Bodies Under My Garage, which one may worry of a lack of substance without the video. However, Kiely’s own contortions are almost exactly the same. It seems slow, really slow, something we never expect from this quartet that usually travels at close to the speed of light, but it’s all for a reason. The tension build and builds, which can only mean under so much stress the song is bound to break, and break it does! Smashing into a seizure like twist, sudden but envisaged. The room erupts into a chaos only imagined in the coming moments of the rapture, sheer panic and a celebratory carnage is what ensues.

It doesn’t stop there as the band flow almost straight into their final number of the night “Paul”, the top hit from their last album “Holding Hands With Jamie”. Seven ungodly minutes of scathing guitars and pummelling drums that act as a major testimonial to Adam Faulkner’s skill behind the sticks.

You could listen to Girl Band all day. But don’t say we didn’t warn you when you get pulled into the unhinged heart of each track. Once you’re in, you’re never out. We’re hooked. 

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