Girls In Synthesis at The Waiting RoomSupport: Human Pet
April 13, 2019 at The Waiting Room
Promoter: Snap, Crackle and Pop/Night Terrors
To accompany the release of Pre/Post: A Collection 2016-2018, a documenting of their first four releases (Louder Than War Records), Girls in Synthesis set off on a short tour between 6-13 April taking in Nottingham, Hull, Manchester, Northampton, Leeds and London (with a Brighton gig still to come). In an interview last summer John from the band discussed their approach to playing live with E&D commenting that ‘…We started performing in the audience at the end of last year, and the shows became a million times more memorable. If you were going to be critical, I guess some could level a “attention seeking/spectacle” charge at it. However, the results speak for themselves. People come away from our shows having felt something. T
hat’s the whole point. Hate it or love it, we’d rather have a reaction. And that’s what we get. People have much better ways of spending a Tuesday night in East London, why not give them something to react to and, essentially, remember?…Relational Aesthetics was the idea that a piece of art was completed by the involvement/contribution of others-a ‘participatory other’ rather than a passive consumer. Is that what you are doing live? Transforming the ‘audience’ into part of the creative process? Absolutely. There wouldn’t be a great deal of point performing this music without an audience present… our music isn’t technically interesting, it’s pretty unforgiving and belligerent. I guess it doesn’t care whether you like it or not. But, as I’ve said, audiences do react if you give them an opportunity to. We’ve had shows where people will just grab the mic and start doing there own thing. We’ve given people our guitars and let them get on with it… we’ve only really just started touching this aspect, really. We often wonder what we’ll do when we play bigger venues or support acts in such places… but we’ll get round it. Playing on-stage for a whole show isn’t an option for us’ (1).
Their four releases have been ferocious, superbly organised bursts of sonic light, searing and invigorating commentaries on contemporary Britain, musically and lyrically capturing the intensity of late capitalism and its felt effects. Marrying this to a utilitarian visual aesthetic of army surplus shirts, boiler suits and DMs and with the approach to playing live outlined above made them a must see band for me this year.
The Waiting Room is a small, literally underground, venue in Stoke Newington, imagine a big living room with a stage at one end and a bar at the other, perfect venue really! Really nice guy behind the bar, knows his local music scene, the place has a good vibe. First up were Human Pet, I hadn’t heard of them before but from the off they were on it; tight, intense, intelligent danceable neo-punk,nimble cleverly structured songs. Clash Magazine described them as having a ‘scratchy indie sound…layered in grunge effects…The off kilter riffing burrows its way into your cranium (2). When you’re on at 20.15 and get people moving you’re good, and these are. Hopefully more on Human Pet at a later date.
Glimpses of the various members of Girls In Synthesis before their set confirmed that they were a real band and not a perfection myth perpetuated by some super sophisticated algorithm that had analysed my preferences and constructed an idealised match! On the back wall are a GIS banner plus the repeated phrase ‘We Might Not Make Tomorrow’, after a quick last sound check two mic stands are positioned off stage, the lights drop..and this is where it all turns into an adrenalised blur of white light and shadow, of band members careering off into the crowd, of Jim and John’s vocal interplay, of them using the stage as a physical launch pad, of Nicole’s thunderous drumming seeming to hold the whole searing, explosive thing together as she is both a continuity of, and simultaneously looks on at, bodies working hard to adequately express the immediacy and ferocity of the music. Somehow I find myself dancing about at the front which means about a metre from the band, two old punks appear to my left drawn in by the energy of something hard to pigeon hole but completely invigorating and euphoric. Tight, tense, creating a liminal space between what is and what could be, Girls In Synthesis were superb, a reminder of why music helps you to both cope with, and make sense of, life. How long were they on for? I don’t know…half an hour? Forty minutes? Long enough and not long enough, of course you want more, you always do.
My imagination had set the bar pretty high for Girls In Synthesis live, they cleared it with no trouble.
Photo by Bea Dewhurst.