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Gig review: Girl Band live at Vicar Street

Photo: April Keogh

Photo: April Keogh

“Dublin, how are you this evening?” was the question asked by opening act Rusangano Family. Judging by the response, Dublin felt amazing. There was a great atmosphere in Vicar Street, an atmosphere quite rare in some gigs around the city these days. Of course, as all acts were to disclose during the night: “It’s for a really good cause.”

Girl Band live at Vicar Street, in aid of Pieta House, was a gig ripe with good times, loud noise, and an eclectic mix of musical genres. First to take the stage was Rusangano Family, an Irish based trio playing a mixture of hip-hop, classic rap, and grime. Music to eager ears for those who were impatiently waiting in the concert hall. The energy this group both had and expelled to and from the crowd was definitively unrivalled on the night.

This is not to say that the second act, traditional band Lynched, were not capable of garnering a similar response from the audience. The oddball out compared to the contemporary music played by main act Girl Band and openers Rusangano Family, Lynched preferred the classic trad compositions like Sergeant William Bailey. Lynched was an unusual choice for such a gig, nevertheless, a very good one.

Despite the young age of Vicar Street, the venue feels very worn in; either a result of the décor or the general feeling once inside. Main act for the night, Girl Band, definitely used this to their advantage. It’s a place built for the type of act like Girl Band. Visceral, primal, crusty punk rock that hits the core and blasts the senses. Prior to the gig, Girl Band was a familiar yet still undiscovered act. As a fan of heavy metal, Girl Band was still an acquired taste to my long since non-virgin ears. Listening to their songs at home gave an impression that I pretty much disliked. I thought to myself, ‘how could anyone like this?’

 

Now I know how my peers who do not share my music tastes feel about me. Seeing a band live can have either an amazing change of opinion, or a detrimental effect leading to loss of interest. For me, this gig was definitely the former. Girl Band was an insanely different act to what my prior thoughts had led me to believe.  Perhaps a result of my low expectations, or simply a result of raw talent displayed by Girl Band on the night, they are now a band I would recommend checking out live. There’s a certain magic and feeling lost through the medium of their studio recordings, which is present in their live performances. Frontman Dara Kiely has a certain charisma that can only be appreciated live, not through music videos or pre-recorded and professionally produced songs.

For those who never lived in a time when punk rock was actually popular, or in today’s world where new fangled genres such as ‘post-punk’ exist in the background, going to see a group such as Girl Band live brings you back to a time and gives you a by proxy nostalgia. It is reminiscent of grimy punk rock clubs, and gigs now seen in documentaries, films, and hard to find holes in the wall.

Is Girl Band the definitive Irish band today? The best Irish band today? I would say no. There’s a fine balance to be met, and while they certainly deliver in concert, something is lost along the way. There is no denying, however, the effect they will have, and have had. Girl Band are without a doubt Ireland’s rising stars. Keep an eye on them.

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