Girls Beguile at the Birch

Following a loose, impressive opening set from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, San Francisco's Girls plugged in at the sold-out Birch North Park Theatre, a venue that has operated as everything from movie theater to playhouse to church since opening in 1928. The stage and various instruments were adorned with vibrant floral arrangements, which coupled with frontman Christopher Owens's tucked-in button-down and tacky tie, made for an ’80s prom vibe.

The retro sparkle of "Alex" got the show under way as attendees eschewed rows and rows of seats and jostled for stage-adjacent standing room. Hipsters in the front went wild and did their trademark minimal effort dance to "Honey Bunny," one of the standouts from last year's heralded Father, Son, Holy Ghost.

"Substance," a powerful love-drug treatise from the Broken Dreams Club EP, exemplifies the profound sadness inherent in Girls' writing. "I take the key in my hand and it takes the pain away," Owens poured out on the track's refrain.

The epic lament "Hellhole Ratrace" sailed along smoothly until the five-piece ratcheted up the decibels with a pummeling tsunami of electric guitars and distortion halfway through the song. Owens took the stage by his lonesome to begin the naked acoustic encore of "Jamie Marie," before being joined by his bandmates for its dynamic crescendo.

The loudest ovation of the evening ricocheted off the floorboards for "Vomit," a six-and-a-half-minute opus that the blogosphere salivated over last summer. The simplicity of lyrics such as "Come into my heart" speaks much louder than its surface interpretation when accompanied by the right sonic backdrop and vulnerable vocal chords.

  • Concert: Girls, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
  • Venue: Birch North Park Theatre
  • Date: March 2
  • Seat: General

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