Tonight’s gig being a sell-out show shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – Goat Girl are the latest hype band of the moment, their debut album just released following some high-profile support slots. The gig taking place in the basement of Shipping Forecast, a tiny venue with a capacity of barely a couple of hundred can’t have hurt either: indeed, it feels pretty full long before tonight’s main support appear. Goat Girl have decided to do what they can with the stripped back stage area, and three papier-mache creatures with googly eyes adorn it, peering out towards the sound desk and bar.
Openers Hannah’s Little Sister maintain that air of the odd – with a loopy, up and down, freakazoid take on alt.rock. Opening growly and screamy, there’s shades of The Orielles once they settle into their wonky indie pop, particularly on ‘Bimbo’ with its smattering of keyboards. But where the Halifax trio are jangly, the Lancs four-piece are itchy, scratchy and tacky but very alive – none more so on the self-deprecating ‘Buzzkill’, an agonising stumble through angst. Closer ‘Payday Junkie’, meanwhile, sees HLS perfect the loud/quiet, super-sweet/bitterly sour dynamic, as laid out by Pixies. Raw power, with the grace of self-awareness.
Second act, The Mysterines, are a different prospect in most respects. A no-bullshit trio centred around lead singer Lia Metcalfe’s Wanda Jackson-style vocals, they specialise in 3 chord verses and one chord choruses. It’s a lean set too, with nearly no talking between songs – and, consequently, almost no song titles to put into reviews. The band, though, are the visual and aural equivalent of ‘Bad Sandy’ at the end of Grease – looking like they’ll steal and break your heart all in the same night. Their greaser garage is so slick, you almost expect them to ride off-stage on motorbikes. ‘Resistance’ is a particular stomper, whose bass-line just veers off into post-punk territory. ‘Take Control’ uses Lia’s voice as the gleaming centre of a scowler of a sound. There’s no bullshit to be found here.
And then, after those two equally perfect sets, it’s Goat Girl. Having bolstered their line-up with a violinist, the (now) quintet have doubled down on a kind of alt.indie-psych with extra country feedback. Snaky and spare, their songs have the feeling of rural chaos, like a riot at Stonehenge. There’s a folky vibe on ‘Creep On The Train’, whilst ‘Crack of Dawn’ brings a carnival to town, creeping around in a dark vaudevillian style. Lead singer Lottie’s vocals have the same nihilist blues feel as Marianne Faithful or Nico, lending a mournfulness to the rock and roll of ‘The Man’. With its harmonies and lilt, meanwhile, ‘Scum’ is less indie disco and more indie square dance. The cover of ‘Tomorrow’ from Bugsy Malone is made to sound less like a paean to one’s dreams, and more of an anthem for the strung-out, before closer ‘Country Sleaze’ rounds off the comedown. It’s a melancholy set, crackling with distaste and discomfort. And, in today’s climate, what more could you want?