Tag Archives: Girls


Haim Pack Webster Hall

September 4th, 2013

Haim – Webster Hall – September 3, 2013

The iconic long blonde locks of Californian lasses have been idolized in music from the Beach Boys to Girls (Christopher Owens). However, a trio of brunette sisters, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, might be changing the West Coast lexicon. Playing collectively as Haim, these siblings evoke R&B into folk-pop heavy compositions. While fans await the release of their full-length album, Days Are Gone, later this month, the sisters headlined a sold-out Webster Hall last night. Having been to quite a few sold-out shows at the venue, I’ve never seen the rafters so overfilled with onlookers or a bottleneck at the entrance for the floor. The sisters definitely took notice, exclaiming “This is the craziest thing.”

Haim treated the crowd early on with fan faves “Better Off” and “The Wire.” The latter was reminiscent of M. Ward’s “Never Had Nobody Like You” with a noticeably similar rollick. There was no doubt that when Danielle’s guitar shredded the familiar chords of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” that this wasn’t any ordinary rendition. Her skills confirmed why the likes of Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas asked the middle Haim sister to tour with them. Early ’90s R&B influences were best heard on “Falling,” where the audience joined in to sing “Don’t stop, no one’s ever enough/ I’ll never look back, never give up/ And if it gets rough, it’s time to get rough/ But now I’m falling.”

The youngest Haim, Alana, couldn’t withhold her glee from announcing the gig was better than her 21st birthday to jumping around onstage to incite the front row. As the set neared its end, Danielle commanded for “the ceiling to fall down,” as she barreled into “Forever” and Este’s heavily laid basslines caused an eruption of claps. The trio returned for a one-song encore and delivered a venomous “Let Me Go.” The evening concluded with the sisters in a drum triangle, beating down on the skins as if they were taiko performers. There’s no question that Haim stamped their names on New York City. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com


Christopher Owens Lets His Music Talk for Him

January 23rd, 2013

Christopher Owens – The Bowery Ballroom – January 22, 2013

Maybe you’ve heard the fable of one Christopher Owens. Reared in the Children of God cult and later “rescued” by Texan oil tycoon Stanley Marsh III, Owens now resides in San Francisco, where he formed the recently disbanded Girls. As if his fortunes weren’t promising enough, he was announced as the face of the Yves Saint Laurent spring/summer campaign. And although he’s concluded his work with Girls, Owens’ solo album, Lysandre, remains confessional, telling the story of a French woman he fell in love with while on tour with his former band.

Playing his latest album completely in order last night, Owens shuffled onto the stage at The Bowery Ballroom with a band of seven. Parking himself in a seat, he wore a suit and tie for the occasion. As those in attendance held their breath for Owens’ first words, his simple “hey” would set the tone for the night. There was little chitchat, and in its place were the repetitive chords of “Lysandre’s Theme.” Bouncing from reflective narrative with “A Broken Heart” to upbeat “Here We Go Again,” Owens let his songs do the talking. He earnestly sang, “What if everybody just thinks I’m a phony/What if nobody ever gets it/Well, some people never get anything/And I shouldn’t care what people think” on “Love Is in the Ear of the Listener.” In response, onlookers offered shouts of encouragement. Singing pensively about the dissolution of his French romance on “Everywhere You Knew,” a lone lighter was raised in the crowd.

For the encore, Owens and Co. returned for a set of covers starting with the first song he ever learned to play, Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” followed by Donovan’s “Lalena.” With the freezing temperatures, Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics “Where the New York City winters aren’t bleeding me” from “The Boxer” were quite appropriate. Topping it off, Owens resurrected the Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Flowers were passed to the front row and Owens pulled out his iPod to record the audience’s applause. This was a memorable evening for him as well as those who braved the arctic chill to hear him. —Sharlene Chiu



Two Nights of Christopher Owens at The Bowery Ballroom

January 18th, 2013

Make no mistake, Christopher Owens has led an interesting life. He spent much of his childhood traveling, as a member of Children of God, before finding his way to Amarillo, Texas, as a 16-year-old and then later making a home in San Francisco. It was there that he paired up with JR White to form Girls and make reverb-drenched ethereal pop music. But last summer Owens announced he was leaving the band to do his own thing, which turned out to be his solo debut, Lysandre (stream it below). As the LP is named after a French girl Owens once fell in love with several years ago, it should be no surprise that it’s filled with ambitious, intimate, revealing songs. “There’s a certain amount of storytelling with this album,” Owens tells Spiritualized frontman J. Spaceman in Interview, “and I felt like I had to make it quite specific to the person and to what actually happened.” Watch him, above, discussing the album and performing for Pitchfork TV and then go see him live at The Bowery Ballroom on Monday and Tuesday.


The New Brooklyn Slow Dance

June 22nd, 2012

The Echo-Friendly – Mercury Lounge – June 21, 2012

Nothing and everything changed this spring when the Echo-Friendly’s best song, “Same Mistakes,” was featured in the closing montage of an episode of HBO’s popular and divisive show Girls. This moment brought the band untold numbers of new fans, many of whom easily related to a show about the tragic comedy (or sometimes just tragedy) of mid-20s romance. Of course, the irony is that the Echo-Friendly represents the real version of some of the narrative heartbreaks offered as a somewhat credible facsimile on Girls.

For those who know the band well, the story of the breakup and continued friendship of the two lead singers, Jake Rabinbach and Shannon Esper, is well documented. For the fans who found the band through HBO, many of whom filled Mercury Lounge last night, they were matched perfectly, the strange intersection of life imitating art imitating life again. Truthfully, both everyone and no one know the Echo-Friendly. The group’s first four songs are, to most, entirely unknown. When they played “There’s a Part of Me Nobody Sees but You” and “Worried” the audience girded itself with recognition of Esper’s Chrissy Hynde–inpsired vocals and Rabinbach’s effusive guitar playing.

Of course, the whole evening, to a certain extent, built inexorably toward “Same Mistakes,” the song everyone knew they would play last. This was the new Brooklyn slow dance, a grinding and beautiful ode to the poor choices of post-adolescence. Esper curled into Rabinbach’s shoulder as the song concluded, a moment that felt like real New York truth, like the fact that the girls and boys who live off the F train are undeniably less attractive than those who live off the L. But for a band from Greenpoint with a complicated history, a band that used a description of its neighborhood as an invocation, a band with lead singers who live just blocks apart, it was the girls and boys who live off the G train that will break your heart. —Geoff Nelson


Some Girls

January 16th, 2012

Girls – Terminal 5 – January 14, 2012

In case you’re wondering, yes, there are some girls in the hard-to-Google band Girls, three old-school-style backup singers who stood on their own riser and added plenty of oomph to a sold-out show at Terminal 5 on Saturday night. The singers, dressed in matching, flashy tank tops, were just one part of a variety of fashion styles on display by the San Francisco band, which included lead singer Christopher Owens in a skirt, bass player JR White in a leather jacket and a stage decorated with dozens of floral arrangements like a DIY wedding reception. The range of musical styles was just as wide, as Girls worked material from the acclaimed Father, Son, Holy Ghost album.

The set began with high energy, one of the singers screaming, “Are you ready!? Put your hands together,” like she were introducing a soul revue. The crowd responded to the bouncing music by pogo-ing in unison. The middle stretch was decidedly more mellow and lo-fi, with lots of doo-wop throwback and sing-alongs galore. As the energy worked its way back, song-by-song, it was clear that for all the accoutrements, this was truly an old-fashioned rocking guitar band at heart. The guitar playing was like a highlighter on a page of text, making sections pop out, sparking contrast and adding color with subtle riffs and some well-placed slide.

Finally, just when it seemed like Girls had shown all they had, the singer who had earlier hyped the crowd gave an “Are you ready?” scream and the band launched into the heavy Bowie-esque “Die.” It felt like the previous three-quarters of the show had been a warm-up for a completely different band, one that rattled the room with a new energy as the floor became a trampoline once again. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Diana Wong | dianawongphoto.com


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Girls on 1/14

January 10th, 2012


There’s a great triple bill at Terminal 5 on Saturday with Girls, Real Estate and King Krule playing. The show is already sold out, but you’ve still got a chance to go because The House List is giving away two tickets. So try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Girls, 1/14) and a brief message explaining why you like Girls so much. Eddie Bruiser, a big fan, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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Girls and Their Changing Ways

September 26th, 2011

Girls – The Bowery Ballroom – September 23, 2011

(Photo: Sandy Kim)

Girls are a considerably different band than the one I saw two years ago. The nucleus, Christopher Owens and JR White, remains intact, but the lineup now includes Matt Kallman on keyboards, Evan Weiss on guitar and brother Darren Weiss on drums. They’ve also added three backup singers, Makeda Francisco, Skyler Lucas and Tracy Nelson. This effect makes for a huskier, fuller sound because the band is now more capable of creating sonic swells and large musical moments. And on Friday night at The Bowery Ballroom, their grandeur was on display for the second sold-out night of their tour supporting their new album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

The stage had a romantic sentimentality, with flowers woven through microphone stands, a counterpoint to Owens’ lovelorn lyrics. It is the uniqueness and intrigue of his tortured past—expressed in song—that makes Girls’ music so compelling. Otherwise, you’d have ’60s pop rock, appropriated for the present. But, with a set filled with highlights from the band’s output, including “Hellhole Ratrace,” “Lust for Life” and recent single “Vomit,” the crowd appeared wholly satisfied by the experience. And if the band decides to change once more, they’ll certainly have their fans’ unwavering support. —Jared Levy


These Girls Got a Little Bigger

April 5th, 2010

Girls – Webster Hall – April 3, 2010

Over the past year, things have changed quite a bit for Girls, Christopher Owens and JR White’s San Francisco-based band. Since they last played New York City, their debut album, Album, was deemed a top critical hit of 2009, and at their headlining show at Webster Hall on Saturday night, everything about the band was bigger—both literally, in the addition of more backing musicians, and sonically, with new instrumentation to flesh out more complex song arrangements.

Though much of Girls’ popularity stems from the simplicity of their music, the catchy melodies and pure, straightforward lyrics, the addition of a few more bells and whistles certainly didn’t hurt. “Hellhole Ratrace” benefited from loud, swirling guitars, culminating in a climactic, noisy pool of feedback, while the wistful apology song “Laura” was imbued with a new, twangy guitar line, and “Morning Light” was steeped in equal parts guitar distortion and haze from the smoke machine. With the stage covered in long-stemmed flowers—which were periodically thrown into the crowd and then often tossed back—Owens tucked a blossom behind one ear before playing the B-side “Life in San Francisco,” an ode to the band’s unique pocket of the West Coast.

Despite all the accolades Girls have earned of late, the band retains the scrappy charm that lured us all in when they were just two funky-looking dudes singing a song about pizza. At the end of the show, Owens thanked the crowd sincerely, acknowledging and half apologizing for their lack of stage banter: “We have enjoyed it, even though we don’t say a lot of stuff.” Flashing a peace sign, he threw the flower from his ear back to the audience, and Girls took their final exit, leaving us to ponder all the new successes they would have by their next time around these parts. —Alena Kastin


Win Tickets to See Girls on Saturday

March 31st, 2010

Girls, the lo-fi indie-rock quartet from San Francisco, have released a handful of singles and an album, Album, since forming in 2007. Their lyrics and sound are definitely influenced by singer Christopher Owen’s childhood spent in the Children of God cult. Find out how far that influence goes, when Girls (above, performing “”Lust for Life” on Pitchfork TV) play Webster Hall this Saturday with Dum Dum Girls and Leisure. Want to go but don’t have tickets? No worries. The House List is giving away two of them. Just fill out the form below, including your name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Girls, 4/3) and a brief message explaining why you deserve a free night with these Girls. The winner will be notified on Friday.

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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


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Girls on 11/6

November 3rd, 2009


San Francisco’s Girls have a well-received new album, Album, out and they’re playing a sold-out show this Friday at The Bowery Ballroom. If you’ve got a thing for these ethereal rockers but weren’t able to get tickets, you’ll be happy to know you can try to Grow a Pair from The House List. Just fill out the form below, listing your name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Girls, 11/6) and a brief message telling us why you deserve to spend the night with these Girls. Eddie Bruiser, who’d just like to spend the night with somebody, will notify the winner by noon on Friday, November 6th. Good luck.

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