Girlpool – Live at Baby’s All Right – 7/29/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
by Steven Spoerl
Yesterday evening, one of Brooklyn’s finest venues- Baby’s All Right- opened its doors and ushered in an eclectic mix of people that tended to skew younger than older but still boasted a handful of patrons who could have grandchildren. It was a nice sight that was likely due to the wide-reaching appeal of both bands playing the early show: Florist and Girlpool.
Both acts have built up a quiet notoriety over the past few years, with the former being a staple of the revered arts collective The Epoch and the latter being one of 2014’s great word-of-mouth successes. The show had sold out before Baby’s opened its doors and the packed room left both bands unfazed. Florist started things off with a set of gentle songs that incorporated subtle, folk-inflected influences into devastating indie pop songs.
Each song kept the audience at a silenced hush as the room swelled to capacity. For the entirety of their set, Florist played in front of a static drumkit (one that would have otherwise been used by Felix Walworth, who’s currently on tour) in what seemed to be a gesture of heartfelt solidarity. By the time their set was drawing to a close, the audience was completely at their mercy, hanging onto every soft word and ambient flourish; it was almost as if Florist was the headlining act, a notion that was supported by the waves of applause following their final notes.
Ultimately, Florist’s set was a perfect lead-in to Girlpool, who wasted no time in launching into their set once they took the stage. Now, Girlpool’s been written about enough times here that it’d be easy to collect all of those pieces and fashion a small bible- but it still felt like they had something to prove an in-person live setting. The notion that they couldn’t was dismissed completely as soon as the duo (comprised of Cleo Tucker on guitar/vocals and Harmony Lebel-Tividad on bass/vocals) launched into their first harmony sequence.
Throughout their set, both Tucker and Lebel-Tividad were in high spirits, casually joking with each other while dealing with a guitar that kept stubbornly falling out of tune. Families, couples, and musicians all watched intently as Girlpool played cuts from their outstanding self-titled EP (one of 2014’s best) and this year’s superb Before The World Was Big, while making room for at least two new tunes.
No matter what the band did, there was a pervading sense of easy camaraderie that bled into a seemingly telepathic connection between the duo. As many others have noted, at times their voices adopt each others affections and become virtually indistinguishable. While that aspect of their music can certainly be heard on record (and in several performance captures), hearing it in person is spine-tingling.
Before anyone knew what was happening, the band had seemingly everyone held at rapt attention, suspended in a moment where time was irrelevant. A brief “this is our last song” brought reality crashing back down on the proceedings and the band finished their main set exhibiting the same flair and charisma that earned them their headliner status in the first place. The encore call was immediate and overwhelming.
After a brief attempt to lead a venue wide singalong of “Happy Birthday” for the girl who cried out that it was hers, the band sheepishly launched into the first song of their encore: “Plants and Worms“. Even in a still-young discography packed with incredible material, “Plants and Worms” stands out in their catalog- and not just because it was gifted one of the best music videos of 2014. It was one of the first glimpses at the band’s maturation level and the songwriting remains some of the most staggering they’ve committed to a recording.
Decidedly darker in tone than the rest of their material, “Plants and Worms” is immediately arresting and the audience was dead quiet throughout (with the exception of a delighted reaction to the Tucker aside about the attempted birthday song), completely engrossed in the performance at hand. The evening ended with a gripping rendition of “Dear Nora”, one of Before The World Was Big‘s most quiet, affecting, and personal songs. When it drew to its silent finish, the audience gave one last enthusiastic applause and got one last glimpse of the band, smiling and waving, in front of an iconic backdrop, left with one last reminder that even though they were making their stage exit, Girlpool aren’t anywhere close to calling it quits.
A photo gallery of the show can be seen below. Underneath the gallery, watch video captures of parts of both Florist’s and Girlpool’s set below. Each video set includes two new songs per artist. Florist’s also includes “1914” while Girlpool’s includes “Chinatown”, “Crowded Stranger”, “Pretty”, and “Plants and Worms”. Enjoy.