Photos by: Charlie Homo
The SHE’s took the legendary Fillmore stage Friday night with their usual self-effacing charm and aplomb and unleashed a non-stop torrent of irresitable guitar-heavy pop, full of tasty hooks, impeccable playing and flawless harmonies. With giggles and sincerity, they threw down that they are ready and able to conquer any stage and get any crowd into an eccstatic frenzy.
Although I am a shamelessly biased fan (see our preview from 10/12), the crowd confirmed that there is something truly special about the SHE’s combination of classic songs, tight musicianship and natural energy and good cheer. The new material from their EP Surfer Boys made a particularly strong impact. They left the stage to a chorus of pleas for more, and a group high that the more serious Holy Shit simply could not contend with.
What to make of Girls? It might be a recommendation when I say that, after hearing their album and seeing them play, I still find them baffling. There is something both compelling and infuriating about Christopher Owens’ emotion-drenched, extended neo-Brill Building puppy love laments. He uses repetition to draw out the longing and fragility inside his love songs, and it can be a little draining. But perhaps that’s the point.
It can be said for sure that the compelling part of the equation rises to the surface on stage. Owens has ditched his longhaired, glam look for linen pants and a shaggy 40’s do that calls to mind similar styistic changes in David Bowie or Bryan Ferry from the mid-70’s. No surprise, considering how much he draws on their space age crooner persona (information-age crooner?). He keeps his hips and legs moving, working the crowd’s energy while still seeming to sing mostly to himself.
To his credit, he is not faking, and for a songwriter who traffics primarily in emotion, he delivers an evocative balance of open-heartedness and introversion. The band, Chet “JR” White on bass, Ryan Lynch on lead guitar, plus drums, keys and extra percussion, were in an extremely tight groove. The expert musicisanship is key to grounding Owen’s odd and unwieldy songs, and they did a great job.
Owens and company seemed genuniely happy to be back home playing to their local crowd, and they indulged them with a long set weighted towards material from their forthcoming album. If anything, these songs sand off a little more of Girls warped veneer and bedroom home-tape aspect. In person, Owens can still sell them with his unique talent and charisma.