Hard Girls - Live in Berkeley (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Hard Girls

Live in Berkeley (2012)

live show

Their first show in over a year, and also their first show since guitarist Mike Huguenor returned from grad school, Hard Girls tore through an energetic, but introspective set at 924 Gilman August 11.

Now in their third or fourth year, Hard Girls have reenforced the energy of their music without sacrificing their contemplation. Often, as bands become louder and faster, their nuance is forsaken in lieu of aggression. Not so with Hard Girls. Where they used to remain fairly anchored down in one spot for the duration of their set, now all three members, including drummer Max Feshbach, whip around the stage like a hardcore band. But, where a hardcore band would be blind, level 10 yelling, Hard Girls co-vocalists Huguenor and bassist Morgan Herrell play their howled vocals off one another while retaining a certain tenderness. That is, live, the band didn't increase volume out of anger, but out of a sense of all-encompassing feeling, not dissimilar to the volume experiments of Dinosaur Jr.

It was equally as striking as to how physical the band got. Usually, thoughtful music finds band members sitting still on stage in order to let the audience focus on the music itself. But instead, Hard Girls were in constant motion. Huguenor would tilt his head back and drift to the rear of the stage only to snap his head forward and belt out a refrain. A few times, Herrell, a fellow well over six foot three, even charged forward while doing a mini-Townsend pinwheel, in an advancement that would make even the bro-ist of bro-core moshers drop back in fear.

The combination of the soulful with the massive and energetic was unique and it worked damn well. It's likely that this combination evolved naturally as opposed to being a "performance decision" and it just goes to show, the most thoughtful might also be the most volatile.

Random notes:

-BREAKING NEWS: Hard Girls announced that they will be releasing a full length LP on Jeff Rosenstock's Really Records.

-Well, who did I run into at the show but Adam from Gnarboots! Interestingly, a fellow with a cane and broken leg came up to Adam and Adam asked him "Do you have any money for me?" The injured fellow meekly replied that he did not and then limped away quickly. I did not inquire into the reasons behind this exchange any further.

-Oh, you know that Hard Girls are three-quarters of Classics of Love, right? What do you mean that you haven't heard the amazingly good CoL LP yet? What are you waiting for, Grandma to buy it for you at Christmas? Well, I've got news for you, junior, Christmas is canceled this year and Grandma hates you! Now go check out that phenomenal record, you twerp!