Nobunny and Girls at Bowery Ballroom

Post Author: Gretchen Robinette

The Bowery Ballroom hosted two sold out nights with San Francisco/Oakland based bands Papa, Nobunny, and Girls, currently on tour together.

Opening act Papa included both the guitarist and drummer from Girls, a band who apparently joined on the tour due to obvious levels of association. The most impressive moment of Papas set was when the drummer (whose name I can't even find on the internet because no one really writes about drummers apparently) jumped out from behind his drum kit to high five fans standing in the front row. It would just make me feel bad to dislike an opening act after such a warm and welcome break from blankly staring at the stage waiting for the other acts to play. All I remember from them is a blandly pop song with lyrics referring to “all my homies” which somehow didn't fit the cute boys from the suburbs stage persona. Competant, yet barely memorable.

Garage rockers Nobunny had a sizeable contingent of gung-ho fans, with several “fuck yeah!” encouragements from the crowd. Nobunny has been known to bring on a hilariously grimy, rock and roll sweat party, and with songs like “Blow Dumb” , “(Do the) Fuck Yourself”, and “Your Mouth” I was fully anticipating at least one display of nudity, oral sex implication, or a mic stuffed in the crotch of lead singer Justin Champlin's undies, any of which Nobunny's live shows have been known to involve. Playing hits from their album First Blood, which has been listed in the top five albums of 2010 by many garage rock fans, received reactions anywhere from “the worst music I have ever seen” to “the best show of my life” on Twitter that night. Yes Champlin (a.k.a. Nobunny) was playing in his underwear from which a set of handcuffs dangled, in a too small leather jacket, signature bunny mask and nothing else. But this show involved non of the crowd surfing, hanging from walls, beer sloshing party scene that leaves you sticky and bruised in unexplainable places, as I was expecting. Some guy tweeted, “I can smell Nobunny from 35 feet away” and although I know for a fact that the bunny mask worn by Champlin for every show is washed “oh about every three or four tours” I wouldn't really go that far. The Bowery was perhaps more stifling than what Nobunny is capable of live, in terms of a balls out rock n' roll show. I blame it on the venue style; a raised stage is no comparison to a more crowd participatory warehouse space or house party when it comes to the bluesy punk, raw experience of a band like Nobunny live.

Finally, the stage was cleaned up and covered in an outlandish supply of flower bouquets for Girls' set, decorations which costs more per show than the opening bands are paid. Some roadie has the envious job of disassembling the floral bundles, taping individual flowers on each mic stands and the band's equipment prior to every performance. The stage smelled like a flower shop from the front row, which I was totally happy with. Another fact, Girls have almost as many stalker-level obsessed male fans as they do female. Christopher Owens' indie rock darling star only rises, his tortured frontman ballads on love and youthful loss inspiring audience members to sneak in the venue early to catch a first glimpse of Owens in the flesh. The crowd was mesmerized by Owens' every word, who not even the three wailing, soulful back up female vocalists could outshine. Perhaps lyrics like “I wish I had a suntan, I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine” will hold a much deeper meaning for me one day, but until then, I will just dream longingly for the seemingly charmed life of everyone in the home recorded video for “Lust For Life“. Girls have successfully resurrected a 60's nostalgic pop sound from California's more dreamy and carefree past. And hearing them live, if you close your eyes, you actually feel like your there. Especially if your stoned.

Girls are touring for their second LP Father, Son, and Holy Ghost which has garnered a beyond-ecstatic buzz on every imaginable music blog since its September 9 release. This record, supposedly, involves less drugs than the previous. Check out the interview Impose had recently with Girls' other half of the duo, Chet JR White, for more info on this.

For more from Gretchen Robinette, visit her website.

It helps to be stoned.