Girls – Live @ Boston’s Paramount Theater

I had the great pleasure of catching Girls‘ set at the Paramount Theater in Boston this past Saturday — an especially exciting concert for me because with the release of Father, Son, Holy Ghost, they have changed from a band I love into more or less my favorite band. (At the moment, I should say — Wilco holds something of a permanent residence in that top spot.) I also relish the chance to see an artist touring behind one of my favorite albums of a given year; in late 2010 and early 2011, I got to see shows by Arcade Fire, Titus Andronicus, LCD Soundsystem, The National, and Robyn — a.k.a. the creators of my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th favorite records of 2010. So when I realized Girls would be playing a show in Boston the weekend I happened to be visiting the city already, I seized the chance to see songs from what may be my favorite record of 2011 being performed by a band at the top of their game. (Or maybe they’ll climb even higher? We’ll see!)

Needless to say, they put on a show that was highly straightforward (even to the degree that I might call it understated — their stage demeanor certainly was), but exquisite nevertheless. Songs were played pretty much note for note as they appear on the albums, down to the guitar solos — but with solos as exquisite as those on “Heartbreaker” and “Forgiveness”, why would you want to change anything? These songs are great enough that simply seeing them rendered live in loving detail, with all their buildups and breakdowns, upbeat hooks and downbeat sentiments, is enough — no fancy embellishment is needed.

To my surprise, they didn’t kick off the set the way they kick off their albums: with a poppy, bubbly number like “Hunny Bunny” or “Lust For Life” (though those highlights did arrive later in the set). Instead, they established a more low-key mood with somber-sounding songs like “My Ma”, “Substance”, and “Darling”. This set the tone for the rest of the show, so when those brighter songs did appear, their yearning, melancholy lyrics stuck out more than their peppy sonics.

Other highlights were, well, everything. The lead guitarist for this tour, whose name I don’t feel like looking up, was a wonder to watch, and touring drummer Darren Weiss brought the necessary muscle to the tunes from Father, Son, Holy Ghost, which have quite a pronounced drum presence. The set segued from one unimpeachable tune to the next: “Laura”, “Heartbreaker”, “Alex”, “Vomit”. I like “Die”, but it seemed to translate to their live show the least effectively. Then they closed the set, apparently at the request of someone on Twitter (whoever you are, thank you), with the stunning “Forgiveness”. In the encore, Chris Owens came out alone to play the first half of FSHG closer “Jamie Marie”, and was joined by the band for the second half. That was followed by the show closer, a monolithic rendition of “Hellhole Ratrace”.

I was crossing my fingers to hear “Summertime”, “Carolina”, “Just A Song”, and “Lauren Marie” slip into the set somewhere, but when a band’s catalog contains literally no bad songs, you can’t expect to hear every one of your favorites. What they gave us was more than enough.

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~ by toren on September 29, 2011.

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