Girls, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Friday, March 9
Back behind the Granada Theater on Friday night, just before Girls went on stage, a stream of fans passed by the fenced-in artist's section with gifts for Girls singer Christopher Owens. One young fan brought flowers and called them "a token of appreciation." Another brought homemade t-shirts featuring photos of Taylor Swift with the Girls logo monogrammed underneath.
Bassist and other half, Chet "J.R." White, wasn't put off by the phenomenon at all. "It happens all the time now," he said, but he didn't know why.
Owens, looking skinny as ever with streaks of green in his hair, was affable but quiet as he accepted the gifts and posed for fan pictures. His onstage demeanor wasn't much different. Owens hardly spoke a word to the audience, and he rarely wore an expression on his face. The songs, however, came off far more powerful than Owens' expression suggested.
Girls, on tour to promote their new record Father, Son, Holy Ghost, didn't get into their new material until the third song. Instead, they opted to open with Broken Dreams Club EP track "Heartbreaker," followed by Album single "Laura."
Starting with older, more well known songs proved to be a smart move for the band. Fans in the back rushed to the stage and stayed there for the entire 80-minute set, dancing and swooning over Owens. He hardly seemed to notice. Meanwhile, his hired backing band played with energy and precision. The touring guitarist took a solo on almost every song, stepping to the front of the stage each time with a cool confidence you imagine rock stars had before he was born.
On their recordings, Girls get criticized for sounding too old. Sure, Owens' story of discovering rock music later in life plays into it, but at the Granada, the songs translated differently. Somehow in the live setting the songs sounded newer and fresher. Chalk it up to the band's obvious penchant for a wide range of dynamics, and momentum-building jam sessions on songs like "My Ma."
"Vomit" was a bit anti-climactic, partly due to technical difficulties with Owens' gear, but he played it off well. The band's classic "Hellhole Ratrace" was one of the night's top songs, eliciting a sing-a-long from the audience.
Now, back to that part about the band's use of dynamics. The most exciting part of the night was on "Lust For Life," when White dramatically saved his bass guitar for the second verse. When he came in, the low end surged through the crowd, causing fans to pogo in place all the way to the back of the room. It was very exciting, especially for a band that gets accused of only playing oldies.
Openers Unknown Mortal Orchestra filled the Granada with punk-laden bombast. Without having spent much time with their recorded music, it kind of reminded me of Supergrass.
Overheard: "Denton is way too fuckin' far."
Side note: Surprisingly, even with the competing 35 Denton, the show was only 50 people short of a sell out.