Despite the fact they released their debut album, which we called “A procession of devastating and precise observations that get right to the heart (and guts) of modern Britain”, this year, it’s been a tumultuous 2018 for South London’s Goat Girl. Not only did drummer Rosy Bones suffer severe burns causing them to cancel shows on their album tour, but bassist Naima Jelly has also left the band. Their show at The Haunt, however, which they’ve dubbed the ‘burns’ tour, finally sees the band returning to normality, showcasing a fresher sound that is less akin to the South London scene they were born from.
Opening on the night were Leatherhead, a new Brighton band who create “sad pop music”. With influences ranging from Modest Mouse, Alex G, and Pavement, it was a confident set steeped in sleaziness and murky guitar lines. As a first look at this band, it was an impressive set. Next up were The Rebel, whom Goat Girl earned their chops with support slots in the early days of the band. The Rebel is the Country Teasers’ Ben Wallers, who is famous for his provocative wordplay. Unfortunately, however, it was a dull, pondering set with little to no stage presence and not nearly enough lyrical nouse to pull off a set in this proximity.
With an album that has as many brooding moments as it does fast-paced bawdiness, it was a little surprising to see a slower start from Goat Girl. No less impressive, however, the likes of opener ‘Burn the Stake’, ‘Viper Fish’, and ‘Cracker Drool’ showcase a delicate and technical nous that truly separates the band from their contemporaries. Like Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ atmospheric film scores, fused with White Album-era The Beatles, there’s a sense of brooding that, it has to be said, works far better on record but is still incredibly impressive.
It’s not until ‘The Man’, which they dedicate to the ladies in the crowd, where both the band and the crowd truly burst into life. With a brilliantly catchy chorus, and mosh pits breaking out in all areas of the crowd, it instantly became clear what Goat Girl means to many people.
With a fairly young audience, the majority female, it’s clear to see that their feminist-tinted lyrics (“Creep on the train, filming me…creep on the train, with his dirty trousers stain” on the brilliant ‘Creep’) and their angry views on our current political predicaments (“Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Tories on the top/Put the DUP in the middle and we’ll burn the fucking lot,” on ‘Burn the Stake’) has really struck a chord with their intended demographic. As feedback goes, their exuberant dancing throughout speaks volumes about their love for the band.
With an ending that took us back to where it all started, with the brilliant scuzzy, ‘Country Sleaze’, which saw the band trend on Twitter, it was the end of an excellent set that did an incredible job of translating a complex and dark album in a live setting. With a new bassist now in tow, and hopefully their tour injuries behind them, the future looks very, very bright for Goat Girl.