Girlpool's visibily close friendship and raw sound united the crowd at Republic last week.
In the middle of Girlpool’s show last week at Republic, guitarist Cleo Tucker laughed at her bandmate and best friend Harmony Tividad as the two joked about how amazing it would be if Starbucks had a gas station. The audience, a modest crowd clad in baggy jeans, button up shirts, and grunge hair styles, giggled along with the band. The moment was short lived, and Girlpool quickly jumped into “Before the World Was Big,” which was beefed up compared to its recorded version due to the company of drums and a second guitar.
Girlpool’s flagrant vulnerability on stage came as no surprise. The band’s openness felt sincere with raw lyrics pondering existential (yet arguably angsty) questions and a reputation for honesty. Tucker and Tividad’s short asides and open communication with the audience helped forge a quick relationship with the crowd. Although it only lasted the duration of a 30-minute show, the audience was briefly part of Girlpool’s uniquely close friendship, and it was eerily warm and sad at once.
Singing in dissonant harmonies separated by a single octave, Tucker and Tividad capture the unique experience of maturing into adulthood at this point in time. The tense political sphere, precarious economy, and exponential advances in technology fuel this generation’s ever-shifting uncertainty and cognitive dissonance. Looking forward is scary, and looking backwards is confusing. While performing “Fast Dust,” Girlpool softly sang, “She grew up with the sheep / in a room stands on her knees / oh today / she’s somewhere today I said / I wanna make fast dust / something I’ve never thought of.” The duo questioned the members’ upbringing as cogs in a machine while questioning why they have the desire to shake things up in the first place, then ask what the point of “fast dust” even is. On “It Gets More Blue,” Girlpool sang, “The arsonist tells you that it gets more blue / The things you believe in a clay-bedroom snooze,” perhaps saying that we trick ourselves into a false sense of security. Girlpool captured confusion, freedom, and apprehension all at once with simple turns of phrase and crooned vocals.
Because Girlpool only started playing with a full band after the recent release of the recent album Powerplant, the drummer and second guitarist exited the stage for songs from their first two albums. This small detail allowed the duo to shine alone, demonstrating that the addition of drums helps to elevate Girlpool’s sound, but it is not necessary to their energy. Tucker and Tividad’s soft yet powerful voices provide enough exuberance to move the crowd; drums are a mere complement that demonstrate the duo’s ambition to develop its sound and continue to grow.
The crowd became increasingly unified as they swayed to each song. This seemed a bit out of place: it looked like the bouncers only let in people with a similar edge. But the unpretentious openness of the band pulled the group in, persuading everyone to unite in mature immaturity. Everyone in this “bundle of grunge” was smiling, a rare phenomenon in the punk community.
At the end of the show, Tividad carried the lead singer of the opening act, Snail Mail, onstage. Tividad announced that it was Lindsey Jordan’s birthday and together, Jordan, Tividad, and Tucker ran around the stage and sang “Static Somewhere” from Powerplant at the top of their lungs. Jordan grabbed the microphone from Tividad then threw it back to her. She jumped to Tucker and stole her mic next, giggling the whole time while the audience sang and laughed together. This unifying moment between bands and audience is indicative of Girlpool’s underlying vibe: growing up is difficult, might as well do it along side close friends.