Girl Scout

Girl Scout, Marathon + The Insider @ the Sunflower Lounge 21st May 2024

Girl Scout are a Swedish band who play a fascinating cross of genres moving between pop and post-punk, with elements of indie-rock and more than a sprinkle of jazz.  Imagine a perfect mix of The Cardigans,  Veruca Salt and Middle Kids.

There has been much talk recently about the cost of gig tickets, with certain artists (you know who I mean) who choose to play in colossal barns, expecting 80000 people to spend over £100 each for a seat, where you either look at a 40 foot screen or the back of someone’s head for two hours.  Well check this out, tonight, here in a small venue in Brum, we have three stunning young bands for £12, where you are right next to the musicians on stage and make a real connection with them.  I know where I want to see the money spent and the support given – right here.  Isn’t it time that people reconnect with these small venues and artists and leave the superstars to play to themselves?

The Inider

First on stage tonight are The Insider, their online presence is minimal so I don’t know much about them except they seem to be from Birmingham and their set is a mix-up of covers and originals.  If you don’t know which is which, the covers are the songs where the singer forgets the words.  The Insider are under rehearsed, and consequently nervous as hell on stage.  It is not a great performance, but they have total lack of pretension and a real sense of making the best of it.  Despite constantly dropping plectrums and guitar straps continually coming off, and forgetting words, they just keep going with an embarrassed smile – I love that sensibility and they totally won me over by the end of the set.  By the way their closing song ‘All My Faith’ was the best one chord song I’ve ever heard… well it might have been one and a half chords.  Later I found it on Applemusic and it still sounds a great song, although a bit like it was mixed in a bin liner.  Check it out:  All My Faith by The Insider.


Marathon are next and are a perfect example of what a well-rehearsed band sounds like.  The Dutch band bring a hypnotic wall of feedback drenched guitars to The Sunflower Lounge but with a clear sense of groove and melody.  It was a thrill to see a bass player use the Fender VI six string bass to its maximum, as both a rhythm instrument with plucked bass lines and full on chords too (it was especially interesting as The Insider’s bass player used a Hofner violin, and both these guitars are synonymous with The Beatles).  Marathon made a powerful sound and were totally in sync with each other throughout their set, utilising the tiny stage to its maximum.  The five piece band had thoughtfully worked out song arrangements, with their individual parts blending together beautifully.  They were clearly happy to be in the UK on their first tour here and they were absolutely loved by the Sunflower audience – let’s hope they come back soon.

I don’t know if I missed an important Girl Scout update, but it is immediately obvious there is a change of line up in the band on this tour, with normal bass player Evelina missing.  That is a shame because her harmony vocals are stunning on their EP’s.  If anyone knows what happened, please enlighten me.

Girl Scout

From their recordings you have a real sense of indie-pop but they can distort things up well, pretending to be punks… but the truth is that actually… they are jazzers!  I thought I mostly heard powerchords in their music, you know your standard A5s and E5s, but these guys really know what they’re doing.  Check out guitarist Viktor; he knows all the chords.  It’s all 9ths and 11ths and maybe even 13ths in there (and that is just in the breaks between songs).  His fingers are all over the fretboard – beautiful inversions and voicings as well that blend so well with Emma’s vocal lines.  You see it’s their intervals – it’s all about their intervals! Wow. They have impeccable taste when they construct melodies, which are harmonically and sonically beautiful, despite on the surface appearing to be simple pop.  But the longer you listen, the more you hear; and because it is so well constructed, it does not get tiresome.  Take the heart-wrenching track ‘Bruises’ which is performed tonight perfectly; listen to the chorus and its suspended 2nds and suspended 4ths, giving it a haunting quality – these touches are not an accident, it is the mark of an artist with an exceptional ear for melody and harmony; it almost demands you sing it, and tonight The Sunflower Lounge does just that – I can imagine soon enough, they will close the show with this song and allow an audience to sing the chorus a cappella – not by request, but because an audience can’t help but sing along.

It is true they sound harder and more aggressive live, which initially surprised me having seen the gentle live studio version of ‘Bruises’ but they do mix it up and ‘Millionaire’ is a whisper after the roar of ‘Monster’ (the track that most reminds me of Veruca Salt).

My only reservation is the dynamic on stage between guitarist and singer – in my opinion Emma should be the focal point, but all too often Viktor’s exaggerated histrionics are so distracting that by the end of the hour set I wanted him to just stand still and play.  This is probably down to the fact the Sunflower stage is small and with more space Viktor’s theatrics would be more appropriate, but as it is, it just feels like a desperate demand for attention.  It really isn’t necessary, as it is blatantly obvious he is a phenomenal musician.  Funnily enough after the crescendo that closes the final song ‘Do You Remember Sally Moore?’, the two have a Bowie/Ronson Ziggy-esque guitar battle that leaves Emma laughing on the floor.

But the most exciting aspect of the Girl Scout show, is they unveiled a couple of new songs, and the good news is they are bigger and bolder and better – the future looks good and I can’t wait to see them come back to Brum again.

Girl Scout Setlist:

I’m So Sorry

Boy In Blue



Mothers & Fathers




Run Me Over

All the Time and Everywhere


I Just Needed

Do You Remember Sally Moore?

Review and photos by Alan Neilson

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