“You ready Ham?” Girlpool’s guitarist Cleo Tucker whispered to bassist Harmony Tividad at the start of their show at Brooklyn’s Market Hotel on Friday, March 25. It was the first of two nights in which the LA-based girlband was set to headline Brooklyn’s Market Hotel, performing songs from their 2015 album “Before the World Was Big.” The sold-out venue, which is known for its presence in New York’s DIY all ages music scene, was packed with audience members, eagerly awaiting the start of the duo’s performance.
Tucker and Tividad maneuvered their way through the crowd and hopped onto the tiny stage in front of a floor-length window overlooking the Myrtle Ave stop on the M train. The venue was scantily lit by the yellow lights from the subway platform. When trains passed during the show, the walls shook and gusts of cold air blew through and blanketed the crowd.
At 19, Tucker and Tividad look surprisingly mature even with their deep blue hair, frizzy red bob and makeup-free faces. They could not stop staring at each other and smiling, even as their set began, gracing the crowd with awe and “thank yous.” The show consisted mostly of songs from “Before The World Was Big,” interspersed with new, unreleased tunes which had the same intimate feel as the rest of their repertoire. With only a guitar and a bass, their raw, piercing shouts demanded attention while their slow, deep whispers hushed the crowd. Their music is reminiscent of the power of ‘90s girl rock revolution with a punch of their unique punk style that is both playful and honest.
Live, their popular songs had additional flair. “Ideal World” was yearning and delicate, ending with a quick static-filled, distorted guitar solo that gave the song a dark and spacey feel. Their album’s title track was driven by an unusually deep, fat groove from the bass. Throughout the song, their voices ebbed and flowed into each other, almost becoming one. Musically, “Dear Nora” sounded a bit off and out of its groove, and although their in-between song banter was amusing and very telling of their early 2000s youth — most talk consisted of Mary-Kate and Ashley movies and trying to remember the name of the helpful animated paper clip on the old version of Microsoft Word — their stage presence was too distracting. Their set ended with an energetic, screech-filled “Cherry Picking” and their 36-second “Magnifying Glass,” in which they barely had time for a breath.
The show was powerful and moving, as was the band. Girlpool is independent. Their music is a snapshot of their fluid exploration of life and its changes while transitioning into adulthood. Girlpool is a symbol of the girls’ friendship, and their quirky girl ballads share with listeners a lot of heart and truth.
A version of this article appeared in the March 28 print edition. Email Gilchrist Green at [email protected]