Claud took the stage almost as if by surprise last night, with an unassuming setup and a very minimal opening track featuring their passionate vocals and delicate guitar. However, after their first track Claud dove into the more electronic side of things, embellishing their 808 driven tracks with emotive guitar melodies and whimsical synths. I particularly enjoyed Claud’s performance of their newish song “If I were you” which was simultaneously their danciest and most introspective tune with a crystalline pop sound reminiscent of Lorde’s earlier music. Overall a great opening act.
As a surprise to absolutely nobody, Hatchie was the highlight of the night, delivering a set that was uplifting, fun, and decidedly springy. On “Without a Blush”, a single from her upcoming debut album, the aussie musician delivered her soaring dreamy vocals with a powerful and unmoving affect and punchy baselines playing of rhythmically enticing guitar stabs. She played a couple tracks off of last year’s Sugar and Spice EP, including my personal favorite “Sure”. On that song she and her guitarist delivered this really cool harmonic depth that built the dreamy quality of the album version with the reverb drenched guitar. It was the kind of performance that fully captivates your attention with a wall of sound and a cavalry of emotional lyrics.
Girlpool walked on to “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears, and the crowd was clearly head over heels for Girlpool. The LA group just released What Chaos is Imaginary, an album well loved here at the K, and their set gravitated towards their newer songs featuring the those classic harmonic melodies we’ve come to expect from Girlpool and some new added depth offered by Guitarist Cleo Tucker’s newfound prowess as a tenor.
There was a lot of cool guitar play onstage: bassist Harmony Tividad swapping instruments with their touring guitarist (too much instrument swapping to keep track of), lots of punchy riffs, and interesting effects helped set the pace and make a captivating sound that was, if not super well fleshed out, fun and exciting. I also appreciated the novel synth effects like the honky tonk sort of piano on “Lucky Joke” that helped solidify that sort of whimsical treatment of more emotional themes.
The song that I enjoyed most was probably “Minute in your Mind” which offered a nice change of pace from the relatively standard and uninspired performance of the drummer and offered some flavor with a booming drum machine coupled with the most shoegazey instrumentation of the night. In my mind Girlpool’s greatest strength is their dynamism and variation, with a sound that is at times very raw and stripped down and at others very abundant and in your face—a great illustration of this was their song “What Chaos is Imaginary” where Tividad’s honest vocal delivery over the laid back instrumentals had echoes of acts like Portishead. My final thoughts are that, although it may not have been the most polished performance, Girlpool delivered a performance that was captivating, dynamic, cerebral, and mature.