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