Girl Band in the Button Factory, Dublin, Saturday 27 September, 2014
Girl Band know how to keep themselves busy. 2014 saw them doing some extensive touring across Ireland and the UK (and, in the weeks to come, further afield in Europe); releasing a couple of bone-shaking singles; and dropping along to Electric Picnic for one of the loudest sets of the weekend.
With a debut album allegedly now in the pipeline, the Dublin noise-rockers probably aren’t slowing down either. It’s just as well, as their frantic, chaos-fuelled sound is something to get very excited about.
The four-piece erupted upon the Button Factory at the end of a little jaunt across the island, and managed to immediately raise the intensity meter since the last time we seen them.
The calm before this noisome storm is provided by support act Cian Nugent and the Cosmos (hot off a support slot for Adebisi Shank’s farewell show in Whelan’s the night before). Nugent and his four-piece backing band (drums, bass, keys and violin) deliver a sweeping set of slow burning instrumental soundscapes, which waft their way from a simple, leisurely strummed guitar chord to a celestial crescendo of sounds.
The restrained and harmonic warm up act is a nice contrast to the headliners, who herald their own entrance with an ear-drum damaging squeal of feedback that clangs like a distorted recording of nails on a blackboard, before a simple chugging beat emerged. The band pummell their instruments mechanically while frontman Dara Kiely approaches the mic-stand, and lets rip a vocal line somewhere between a drone and a scream.
The music teeters on the edge of descending back into nails on chalkboard distortion, and Kiely’s vocals waver on the edge of incompressibility, but it is all delivered with such unrelenting commitment to this huge and unwieldy barrage of sound that it’s impossible not to be sucked up into the moment. Added to this is the fact that buried within the fuzzy swell of noise are some painfully catchy melodies.
New track De Bom Bom buzzes out of the amplifiers like a the dying sounds of a huge machine, with bass and guitar seeming to challenge each other to see who could conjure the loudest, most distorted riff.
The show otherwise delivers everything fans have come to expect at this point. The Cha Cha Cha summons thirty seconds of pure chaos, while Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage showcases Girl Band’s influence from techno and EDM, launching The Button Factory into a kind of sludge-rock rave.
It’s an intense, sweaty, headache-inducing live experience, and we’re left with the feeling that Girl Band are still only getting started. Buried beneath the chainsaw riffs and shouty vocals there is evidence of a band emerging with something new after learning the ropes from a whole swathe of punk and post-punk bands (and a whole lot of other genres too numerous to list). There is evidence of a band who could do very fearsome things if given the chance to develop their sound a little further.
We just hope they aren’t planning to slow down any time soon.