LIVE: Girl Ray @ EBGBs, 30.10.17

During their headline set, Girl Ray lead singer Poppy Hankin confesses that tonight’s show – part of the annual Liverpool Music Week festival – is the band’s first outside of the capital. Appropriately, then, the headliners take to the stage in the basement of EBGBs after a line-up featuring several local acts.

Disastronauts are first up. A four-piece specialising in totes emosh pop-punk and garage, their sound is typified by shredded Sonic Youth-y guitars on top of a bang-bang-boom rhythm section, with flips into math rock and pure grunge. They’re young, and raw, but there’s no shortage of talent and invention, with opener ‘The River’ demonstrating a rapidly-developing maturity. Special props to their drummer too who, whilst the lead singer and guitarist are acapella-ing the lyric “It’s time to go”, decides to dismantle his cymbals. It’s a riotous, consciously chaotic start to the night. 

Up next are Gintis. Hailing originally from Abergele, they’re an acoustically-driven latter-day take on the likes of Grandaddy and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, with the addition of a trumpet.  fter them, it’s Sugarmen – an indie-rock band with a drive that sits somewhere between Buzzcocks and Arctic Monkeys, with the Scouse tinge of The La’s or The Coral’s most upbeat numbers.

Finally, to the headliners, who kick off with the bouncy indiepop double-hit of ‘I’ll Make This Fun’ and ‘Just Like That’. It’s a perfect way of demonstrating their arpeggiated sparkly pop that hangs around Poppy’s vocals, intoning lyrics, all served with just a hint of country winsome.  

The performance of ‘Don’t Go Back at Ten’ even involves a line-dancing style 360° spin, courtesy of Poppy and bassist Sophie, during its middle eight, whilst ‘Trouble’ and ‘Stupid Things’, with their bittersweet combination of naïveté and confession, carry the band through until their penultimate song, which is a Breeders-like rock number.  

Sid from The Orielles is spotted in the audience and invited to play cowbell on final song, ‘Ghosty’. It’s a reminder that, for a lot of these bands, this is really just the start and, although the set may not have been perfect, there’s enough to suggest that Girl Ray will be venturing out of London for a long time to come.

John McGovern

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