Last Tuesday, a crowd huddled up outside the sliding glass doors of the Ché Café, bearing the rainy weather in anticipation for touring folk punk rock band Girlpool, with opening performances by Holling and Bobby T. and the Slackers.
Now based in Philadelphia, Girlpool was formed in LA back in 2013 by guitarist Cleo Tucker and bassist Harmony Tividad. With their self-titled debut EP Girlpool released via Wichita Recordings in 2014 and their first album Before The World Was Big hitting stores back in June, it’s no wonder that the ever-relevant Rolling Stone Magazine has deemed this up-and-coming duo as one of “SXSW 2015: 30 Artists You Need to See.” Girlpool captivates listeners with their brilliant punk energy and raw harmonious vocals that feature themes like teenage disillusionment, the rude awakening of adulthood, and the questioning of societal norms.
Opening for Girlpool were Holling and Bobby T. and the Slackers. Holling, with their soothing “indie-rock” vibe, incorporated the electric guitar stylings of Briana Tirado, a mellow bass played by Jeff Baron, and the impressive multitasking of drummer/guitarist/vocalist Chris (yes, Chris). This local San Diego band used lo-fi singing, succinct drumming, and guitar-based instrumentals to construct a relaxed mood that worked great as an opener.
Up next was Los Angeles alt rock group Bobby T. and the Slackers. With their self-described as—according to their Facebook page—“spunk rock” and “glitter grunge,” the works of vocalist/guitarist Robert Tilden are brought to life by this rising boy band—with Ian Lipson on bass, Tiago Mendes on lead guitar, and Gabe Stout on drums.
…Bobby wrote these songs. You know, him and the folks who used to collectively make up the band,” Stout told The Triton. “It’s been kinda cool, like bringing a new group of guys together and… playing the previously written songs. But as a new band. And taking things from the recording and having that kind of bleed into what we’re playing, but also adding our own flair to it.
And it was only three weeks ago that Tilden, or Bobby T. rejoined forces with The Slackers. “I looked up to all these dudes as musicians,” Tilden said about his bandmates whom he met at California Arts Academy, each of them members of other bands like Wistappear, Level 2, and John Cage Against the Machine. With elements of punk, grunge, indie, and funk; they bring to the table an upbeat, energetic passion filled with echoey vocals, syncopated rhythms, and guitar—shredding instrumentals. With this being Bobby T. and the Slackers second show of 2015 at the Ché, they have a bright future ahead of them.
By the time Girlpool hit the stage, the crowd had grown significantly in size. The duo brought with them minimal equipment: a guitar, a bass, and some effect pedals. No drums. Using simple song structures and rhythms, they command the listener’s attention with emotionally powerful lyrics, reciting them in a sort of “storyteller” fashion. Playing songs from their Girlpool EP and debut album Before The World Was Big, one noticeable feature of their show was their energetic performance etiquette. They used the majority of the stage, told stories in-between songs, and at one point even traded instruments with each other. After already performing at this summer’s FYF, Girlpool now journeys through their national tour, from San Diego to Houston to as far as Baltimore. With two releases in the last two years, this emerging pair has a lot to offer t(w)o the world of music.