Girls Names at Whelan's by Kieran Frost

Girls Names in Whelan’s, Dublin on April 4th 2014

Meteor Prize nominees Girls Names paid a visit to Dublin last Friday to show off the album that has brought them to a wider audience. Darlings of the local scene, Squarehead, are in the support slot, and are another band who released an excellent album last year. Despite two of Ireland’s best alternative bands on show, Whelan’s is surprisingly roomy; not enough to kill the atmosphere perhaps, but enough to make a note of.

Squarehead burst on stage in a frenzy of noise and energy, immediately underlining the new rugged sound that has been ushered in by the release of ‘Respect.’ What’s Wrong hits hard with its slow and deliberate chord movements and growling vocals, while Swing‘s ridiculously catchy chorus maintains this high-octane vibrancy. The overall sound though brings immediate comparisons with Weezer to mind, so when the synths are introduced on Pulse, they bring a refreshing new dimension  to the band, and their performance is a highly enjoyable one.

Girls Names kick off their night with Pittura Infamante, and greet the crowd with a storm of distortion. Cully begins singing, and straight away we are struck by the lack of reverb on his vocals. On record, all vocals are soaked to the point of saturation with echo, so this is finally the chance to hear Cully’s true voice. Admittedly his singing isn’t anything special, but the untreated vocals are more honest and make the music feel much more alive, and ultimately this marks an emphatic first step to a top-quality live show.

Hypnotic Regression and Drawing Lines also benefit significantly from being placed in a live setting – again the vocals are  striking for being so clear, but the instruments also sound more vibrant too. Chugging basslines and intricate drums can be appreciated more in this environment and as a listener you can pick up on the small things that get lost in what is now an apparent over-production on record. Drum and bass fills make themselves more evident, and the sudden tempo change in Occultation is explosive.

The band debut a few new tracks that don’t hint at any significant change in musical direction, apart from Cully diving down to an Ian Curtis level of baritone on occasion. The tunes themselves sounded fairly decent, so it’ll certainly be interesting to see what Girls Names do next. Their show tonight is brought to a close by The New Life, a colossal number that ends in a manic burst of feedback fury. It seems that underneath a few layers of production and effects, there is a seriously impressive band with much more in their arsenal than their records would have you think.

Girls Names Photo Gallery

Photos: Kieran Frost

Squarehead Photo Gallery