[5 November 2009]
Last night, two of the most buzzed-about new bands of the moment rolled through Washington: San Francisco’s Girls and New Jersey’s Real Estate. Though both bands mine similar sonic territory (lo-fi indie-pop,) and have impossible names to google, in a live setting, their approaches clearly diverge. Real Estate ably demonstrated that beneath all the haze hides a tight ensemble. Belying their beach bum reputation, there was nary a stray note to be found in the band’s set, though they certainly made it look effortless. What’s more, the band imbued their sunny, midtempo compositions with a palpable sense of warmth, rendering tracks off of their self-titled full-length even more inviting than they are on record. Girls, by way of contrast, felt sluggish, though the slower tempos of their songs could be partially to blame. Still, they seemed to lean too heavily on frontman Christopher Owens’ unhinged personality, relying on his delivery to carry most of the songs’ weight. When this approach worked—most notably on the skuzzy shoegaze of “Morning Light” and the bouncy breakup pop of “Laura”—the results were stunning. When it didn’t, the set tended to drag. While Girls show a great deal of promise, they clearly still have a ways to go as a live act. They might want to start by learning a thing or two from their tourmates.