Author: Shelby Joy Leone
The first non-stadium show I ever went to was in 2015. I saw three bands play at Slim’s in San Francisco: Dogbreath, Joyce Manor, and Girlpool. Actually, Girlpool was one of the openers for Joyce Manor, but I left that night thinking only about what I had experienced while Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad were on stage. They were a dynamic duo, a harmonious force of feminine energy and unbelievably catchy riffs. I’ve been listening ever since.
Girlpool, when I first saw them at Slim’s in 2015.
Photo by Lynae Cook
Now, three years later, Girlpool stick kicks all kinds of butt, but in a very different way. Girlpool began as a two piece. There was no drummer, no rhythm guitar, just a bass, a guitar, and two voices–and fans liked it that way. Girlpool often switched between quiet, gentle whispers and loud, angry screams. It was vulnerability mixed with the power that can only come from young adult rage. But the Girlpool I saw last night at the Vera is all grown up. They were accompanied by Ross Chait on drums, and a guitarist (whom I cannot find the name of) who add depth to their classic formula. Their latest release, Powerplant (2017), combines the vulnerability, rawness, and harmonious relationship Girlpool is known for with a new sense of cleaned-up energy.
Girlpool’s youthful stage presence, however, remains fun and endearing. Tucker and Tividad’s deep rooted friendship is obvious to audience members, and it is this heart that fuels their performance. The band as a whole consistently joked around on stage, at one point performing an improvised cover of “Blister In The Sun” while waiting for Cleo, who was busy downtuning.
“This place is so cool!” Tucker remarked, “It makes me think of all the good things in life…”
“Yeah!” replied Tividad “Like…Divorce, taxes….”
The entire band then proceeded to fall into a giggle fit along with the audience.
“Now I am just thinking about fish,” said Tividad
“Why does divorce make you think about fish?” Tucker asked through their giggling
“I dont wanna talk about it.”
Moments like this were plenty throughout their set, and the band’s obvious connection was contagious.
Photo by Dan Gonyea
When Chait left the stage and left Tucker and Tividad to play some of their songs from their past releases, it felt like a reunion tour. Even those songs, however, have found a new maturity. Their individual sounds have grown; Tividad’s falsetto now with more power and feminity, and Tucker’s tenor with a stronger base. Both original members of Girlpool seemed to have found themselves, and it truly shows. Though they may struggle with different challenges than those of the songs they wrote while they were teenagers, they truly embody the voices of two kids grown up. I closely watched the member’s faces when they sang, “My mind is almost 19 and I still feel angry.” Have no fear, Girlpool is still angry, and they handle it ever so well.
Photo by Dan Gonyea
When Girlpool left the stage without playing some of their bigger hits, the audience took notice.
After a few minutes of cheers and clapping, they returned and played “Chinatown”, a sweet anthem of youth and insecurity. By the end of it I was crying my femme eyes out.
Photo by Dan Gonyea
It is now that I feel as though I should mention the venue for this blessed event, The Vera Project, an “all-ages volunteer-fueled music and arts venue” based right here in Seattle. The Vera is “Always all ages, always substance free”, as it is a venue that focuses on their younger audience, offering them resources to break into the music industry, from lighting to sound to screen printing, The Vera provides a creative and inclusive education that develops the next generation of culture-makers. Through youth-centered volunteer programs and community engagement, The Vera offers the rare safe space for community members of all ages, races, sexualities, and identities. Spaces like the Vera are greatly needed and are deeply appreciated by underaged music fans.
For more about the Vera Project, go to https://theveraproject.org/
SHELBY JOY LEONE | KXSU Music Reporter