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