Live Review: Girls Names – Oporto – 20/6/18

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how and why we remember certain things over others. Do we idolise and pay homage to specific musical happenings (gigs or otherwise) as opposed to others because they were simply better? Or are there other factors at play? My ground-shaking, clearly erudite conclusion is the majority of it is smoke and mirrors, that legacy and collective memory are more often than not dictated by what sells and what fits plot points on a narrative that is pre-agreed. In short, we don’t remember things for their quality like we should. And that brings us on to Girls Names‘ recent show in Leeds, a show that should be remembered not for its drawbacks but for the overwhelming positives on display

The show itself took place at Leeds’ Oporto – which in recent years has been the venue for our Live at Leeds stage – and saw the Irish four-piece roll in to town having released their fifth studio album, Stains on Silence, their first in eight years. Although clearly disappointed with the turnout for the show, addressing the crowd along the lines of “the whole of Leeds” at one point (which felt like an audible dig at the lack of promotion the night had received), the band were in fine fettle. Switching easily between frantic bursts of guitar noise and layered feedback and more textured synth-led songs, Girls Names felt like a band that had taken their own pigeonhole of post-punk and ran with it – why be ashamed of something you’re good at and that is so evocative and emotional and downright brilliant?

However, the real highlights of tonight are the band’s cuts from their latest LP. Immediately exhibiting a more melodic sound than previous material, ‘Haus Proud’’s laconic, earworm vocals meld perfectly with a Talking Heads-esque bouncing bassline and make for a particular stand-out alongside the album’s title track. Girls Names’ newer songs felt genuinely exciting and a clear showcase for a band unafraid to step out of their comfort zone when needed, exploring new sonic territories but also tethering it in the uniquely brilliant concoction they have worked so hard to create.

Looking back on this show, it would be easy to focus on the unfortunate negatives but that would take away from how fantastic Girls Names were. Yes, it was a show that suffered from lack of adequate promoting but in the room, on the night, the Irish four-piece were in blistering form, a red-hot epitome of everything they have become known for and more to boot. If we are all in agreement that we should remember things on merit and merit alone, Girls Names in Leeds on 20th June should be very high on the agenda.