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These Girls Are Smoking Hot

November 9th, 2009

Girls/Real Estate – The Bowery Ballroom – November 6, 2009

Girls - The Bowery Ballroom - November 6, 2009
Expectations invariably follow Girls. From their emergence on the indie-music scene, San Francisco natives Christopher Owens and JR White have captured imagination and awe. Perhaps it is Owens’s tortured lyrics paired with Girls’ ’60s pop-rock sound, an enigmatic combination to outsiders, but a magnetic force for fans. Or perhaps it is the steady stream of media plaudits for the group’s debut album, Album. Regardless, on Friday at The Bowery Ballroom, a sold-out crowd teemed around the stage to witness the band behind the story.

Real Estate, out of Ridgewood, N.J., opened the show. The quartet delivered washed-out guitar riffs with a cool, breezy feel. Songs like “Black Lake” highlighted the band’s use of muffled melodies to communicate laid-back ease. For their brief yet highly danceable tune “Green River,” Girls’ Owens lent a hand on tambourine. Real Estate has yet to release an LP, but their music is available on two 7-inch records, Fake Blues and Suburban Beverage.

As Girls took to the stage, the crowd immediately requested songs. “Lust for Life!” someone near me shouted. While this kind of heckling may throw off some bands, Owens and Girls never appeared fazed. The band played most of Album’s singles, including a mellowed-out version of “Hellhole Ratrace,” “Lauren Marie” and, yes, even “Lust for Life.” Owens switched between a vintage-style Rickenbacker electric guitar and an acoustic one throughout the show. White, solid and steady on the bass, and the rest of the newly revamped touring band ably backed Owens. Girls gave a solid performance for arguably the most-hyped band around. Owens, in somewhat of an acknowledgement to this fact, responded to an audience member asking, “Are you cold?” with: “I’m smoking hot.” —Jared Levy

Photos courtesy of Jared Levy