Goat Girl @ Hare and Hounds, 8 May 2018

When a bunch of leftfield Brixton guitar kids like Goat Girl sign the dotted line to a leftfield label like Rough Trade, on the same day that a small majority of Brits sign to go inward looking and insular then you know the universe is dancing the ying and yang jig.

They are one of a few bands out there at the moment whose quirkiness and disorienting beats could be part of a redefining of the musical boundaries for a new generation. At the tail end of most musical decades, there seems to me, that a new and exciting take on musical culture takes place. The seedlings of new times if not new sounds seems to be poking it’s first shoots from out the top of big name, big arena, big price compost. At the vanguard of this sprouting are intriguing bands such as Fling, Shame, Idles and Goat Girl. None of these are everyone’s cup of tea and none have much in common with each other… except maybe energy, quirkiness, a sarcy sneer and a healthy disrepect of the laddish excesses of modern Indie.

I attended this gig out of curiosity and love of all things unconventional. My companion tonight was there to give BrumLive a new viewpoint and at this point I melted, beer in hand, into the background as Goat Girl approached the stage…. pick it up Ricardo…

A packed Hare and Hounds awaited the band, which is what I expected given the headlines the band have been creating following the release of the eponymous debut album. “Salty Sounds” played as they sauntered onto the stage, the menacing intro to their album juxtaposing to their innocuous and laid back look as they got themselves ready. What you see and what you hear with Goat Girl are two different things. They knock you off balance. That’s a good thing; there is nothing safe about this band.

“Burn the Stake” starts proceedings, Lottie’s voice reminiscent of Courtney Barnett with it’s low drawling tone but with far more menace. ” Build a bonfire, put the Tories on top, put the DUP in the middle and burn the F******* lot” she wails towards the end. “Creep” is next up and the menace and scathing goes up a notch as Lottie bemoans a man who has the audacity to film her on a train with his phone. She wants to “smash his face in”, and she’s now Courtney with a flick knife even though she looks like butter wouldn’t melt.

The gig settles down but rattles along with the same pace the album does, never letting up, with little interaction between songs. For a band confident with their sound and lyrics, they seem less at home connecting with the crowd. They have stories to tell and opinions to share and just want to get on with it. Highlight of the hour long show were the back to back “Throw Me a Bone” and “The Man”. Both songs showcasing the huge potential that this band have.

Also back to back were “I Don’t Care (part 1)” and “I Don’t Care (part 2)”. I think they protest a little too much though. They do care and whilst for the most part the band are expressionless and sometimes look bored, the little smiles between the band throughout the gig show me a band that are happy with their work, and a band coming to terms with their growing reputation. They finish with a cover of “Tomorrow” from Bugsy Malone. On the face of it, why would this work? But it does, superbly and brings to an end an excellent hour.

I have seen them described as a female Libertines. Now, I wouldn’t go that far but there are similarities. Like the Libs, Goat Girl’s songs are often disjointed affairs, creating a sound that is unsettling as guitars, bass and drums seem to work separately from each other before suddenly coming together and hitting a sweet spot. There are moments of tightness as shown on “The Man” which shows how versatile they are. It’s rockabilly sound, evident on other tracks is infectious and will win them a wider audience with radio play. It will be interesting to see the direction that they will go. I hope they continue to mix it up with the crowd pleasers and tracks that are harder to listen to and leave you with mixed emotions.

Too many bands play it safe, something that Goat Girl certainly aren’t guilty of yet.

Reviewer(s):  Mark Veitch and Richard Jefferson

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