Girls' debut single, "Lust for Life" (no relation to Iggy Pop's ode to recklessness), has been in heavy rotation on The Current for the past few weeks, but there's a good chance that the song might never have made it to our airwaves if it hadn't been for the outpouring of online press that has recently surrounded the San Francisco band. Likewise, the pre-music chatter from the 7th St. Entry's sold-out crowd on Saturday was full of Minneapolis music fans mapping their web-based connections, exchanging screen names, and discussing the websites where they had heard Girls' first LP, simply titled Album. Even if the majority of them loved the collection of sun-stroked pop, there was an air of cautious hesitation. Could the band's live show live up to the hype that had been heaped on them?
Openers and fellow San Francisco residents Dominant Legs took the stage first, remarking that this was the first time they had been to Minneapolis before ambling though a handful of pleasant indie-pop songs like "Young at Love and Life". The duo were backed only by a lonely drum machine, cranking out lo-fi beats and synth textures behind tunes that carried hints of Belle & Sebastian. After guitarist Ryan Lynch sheepishly mentioned that he hoped to have a full band to tour with the next time Dominant Legs swings through the Twin Cities, the members of Girls joined the openers onstage for their last song, providing a fuller, more energetic backdrop and hinting at what could be in store for future visits.
Dressed in a pink t-shirt, tight jeans and hi-top Nikes (looking almost like he should be next door dancing his ass off at Too Much Love) Girls frontman Christopher Owens brought an iPhone onstage that he had found in the bathroom, playfully answering a few calls from people he couldn't possibly know before the owner crashed through the packed crowd to demand it back. But upon starting his band's set, Owens seemed freshly stripped of his jokey attitude, offering no introduction before starting into the lazy strains of "Lauren Marie". From the start, it seemed like Girls were almost exhausted from their tour across the US, and not looking forward to the 28-hour drive to Seattle the next day.
Owens spoke few words, content with a quick "thank you" in between each song. Meandering through some new material and low-energy fare like "Headache", the crowd started to wonder where the fireworks were, and the band responded by launching into "Lust for Life", jarring the audience with the early appearance of a song so many were sure would be the big finale and earning a hail of enthusiastic applause in the process. But, now that the energy had returned and the big hit was out of the way, how could the band end on a high note?
After playing a few more album highlights, including tear-jerking renditions of the regretful "Ghost Mouth" and "Laura", Girls offered a stunning closer that meshed together the cathartic ballad "Hellhole Ratrace" and shoegaze homage "Morning Light", prompting a singalong from a rejuvenated audience. While there was a disappointing lack of an encore and the band members seemed tired from their stint on the road, the group was able to pull through when it mattered most, snaring the crowd with a surprising sprint to the finish line and doing their best to ensure that there will be another sold-out crowd waiting for them when they make their return to the Twin Cities. If Girls can continue on their current trajectory, the chance to see them put on an even more impressive show can't come soon enough.