Village Underground – 7th September
It’s a happy accident when Harmony Tividad of Girlpool’s mic runs into some technical problems right before crowd favourite ‘Chinatown’. Harmony is nestled in confusion at first – “one, two”-ing at her technically impaired microphone – before the entire venue starts shouting, “SHARE THE MIC!!!” With a last-grasp attempt at checking into her mic with no successful avail, Harmony sidles up to her bandmate Cleo Tucker stage right. Cleo and Harmony mimic the McCartney/ Lennon mic-sharing frolics for one of their most-loved songs, the duo whipping in and out of the front of the mic as they alternate lyrics and verses. Harmony nearly whips Clio with the head of her bass, and the two find momentary awkwardness as they attempt to duck and dive in harmony without head-butting the other but it is no matter – it’s the sort of vulnerability and focus on the intertwining of the two’s voices that has always been so symbolic of Girlpool.
The LA-based DIY punk duo have brought their acclaimed sophomore album Powerplant to the Village Underground, and Harmony and Cleo seem louder than ever. The addition of drummer Miles Wintner has amplified their sound in a way that doesn’t ever take the focus away from the duo’s much-loved vocal interplay. Even first album deep cuts such as ‘Before the World Was Big’ and ‘Cherry Picking’ are reimagined in a sense that just seems to magnify the Girlpool world, the fact that the band are now a five-piece touring outfit still never detracting from the vulnerability and rawness of Cleo and Harmony’s lyrics. The best friend duo are still the core of the band, and yet the loud prowess of their second album as well as their more deepened sonic presence seems to have injected a fresh live energy.
New album slice ‘It Gets More Blue’ is a sludgy, more garage rock-oriented track where the two utter some of their most memorable lyrics: “I faked global warming/ Just to get close to you.” When the two reach the end of their main set with album-closer ‘Static Somewhere’ – arguably the best track on Powerplant – the two’s combining voices are well and truly in unison.
“Tell me you are here/ I hope I’ll find you/ Static somewhere,” Cleo and Harmony sing. One of the band’s rowdiest efforts, the slacker guitars having as much interplay as the voices. It will hopefully nod to a sound that Girlpool will try to ingrain themselves in more – a more heightened sound that still has the much-loved heart of the two’s raw vocal vulnerability at front and centre stage.
Photos by Joao Machado. See full gallery.