Live Review: Girlpool, Major Leagues

27 January 2016 | 11:42 am | Roshan Clerke

"The pair indulge in some solid banter about emus and the internet before introducing a series of unrecorded songs."

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It's not often that opening bands are louder than the main act, but that's exactly what Major Leagues are tonight as the Brisbane four-piece serenade the small but eager crowd gathered inside The Brightside.

Lead singer Anna Davison's suburban poetry is a perfect fit for the band's melancholy sound, with their nostalgic guitar tones and restless drumming forming the requisite bittersweet juxtaposition of privilege and poverty, the perpetual preoccupation of the middle class. Silver Tides summons the remaining crowd members in from the outside smoking area, and it's not long before Someone Sometime, Teen Mums and Endless Drain have excited audience members dancing in front of the stage. There's a noticeably skewed gender ratio at the show tonight, as the few men that are in attendance stand around the edges of the crowd. It's almost a reversal of the unfortunately commonplace moshpit phenomenon, with the dancers down the front replacing the intense atmosphere with a carefree and celebratory environment. They are a supportive audience, and seem honestly disappointed when the music ends, even for a short period of time, as Major Leagues finish with Feel and exit from the stage.

Californian duo Girlpool further extend the reciprocal feeling, as guitarist and singer Cleo Tucker wears a Major Leagues shirt purchased from the merchandise stand. The pair are quiet punks rebelling against their loud emotions, and are perhaps the most stripped-back group to be considered within their genre. However, their continual existence without a drummer is challenging enough in itself, as the women fill the sonic space usually occupied by booming percussion with their fiercely loud harmonies on album opener Ideal World. After the subversive guitar freak-out at the end of the song, they launch into the equally abrasive and confrontational I Like That You Can See It.

The pair indulge in some solid banter about emus and the internet before introducing a series of unrecorded songs. While the sound of the first new one is less skeletal than the often disjointed tracks on their previous album, bordering on an alternative-country swing, the songwriting is instantly familiar, as the duo sing, "Your pain is an endless cycle," at the tops of their respective lungs. Switching volume and melody, but not necessarily content matter, the pair follow it up with a quieter one, as bassist Harmony Tividad harmonises with closed-eye sincerity. They swap instruments for Paint Me Colors, before Dear Nora finds them sounding angelic as they bring it to an unaccompanied close. Emily, Chinatown and Crowded Stranger are all well received album highlights, as well as a new song that features the line, "She's like a shelf the way she looks at the wall." Pretty is a final desolate lullaby from the pair, before they finish with Cherry Picking and mingle with the crowd.

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