A frustrating and frenzied set of enjoyable panic
Melanie Kaidan
16:48 8th November 2019

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After a four year hiatus, Dublin’s own Girl Band are back in London for their last show of their highly anticipated UK tour. As the lights go out, the packed out Electric Ballroom starts vibrating to an apocalyptic guitar that foretells the sudden start of ‘Pears for Lunch’. This is the Girl Band fans have been waiting for.

Frontman Dara Kiely displays a peculiar style on stage: his stillness contrasts with the words he screams and roars. Besides running his fingers through his hair and the occasional turn to look at the drummer, Kiely stays stationary throughout the set, embodying that feeling of fury, despair and anxiety that their songs convey.

Surprisingly, their crowd is not as crazed as we would expect them to be. Some even look bored, much like they have been dragged here by their friend who is more of a connoisseur in matters of noise-punk. The front rows sway rhythmically and mosh, but sparingly: generally, a trance-like vibe characterises the crowd, everyone’s eyes fixed on the band.

Some moments feel like an everlasting intro, with many songs having interesting lead ups to (tragically) fleeting moment of frenzy, the euphonic moment snatched away again by Kiely’s entrancing, muttering vocals. And this is what sets Girl Band apart: their talent resides in their sensory creativity; how they are able to induce a paradoxical feeling of enjoyable panic.

Experimental basslines and some really good primal drumming elevate the entire show. Kiely’s composure and his usual monotone occasionally divert into impressive guttural growls that accentuate the sense of distress. All of this, along with Alan Duggan’s abrasive whirring guitar, comes together in  pleasing white noise chaos.

‘Going Norway’, from latest album The Talkies is the highlight of the night: everyone, from day one fans to those who have just discovered them, sing along to the raucous tune. For the finale, the intertwined sounds of bass and guitar are drowned out by the pounding noise of drums, Kiely’s screams hardly audible now...and suddenly, there is silence again.

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Photo: Press