Check out the slideshows for more photos: Girls; Magic Kids & The Smith Westerns
Maybe it was the week of cold weather and the promise of jingle-jangly sunshine-y power-pop to warm The Spin's cold soul (and colder extremities), but somehow we managed to make it to Exit/In on time Saturday to see San Francisco's Girls.
By 9:45, the room was filled with the expected mixture of beards, cardigans, skinny jeans and those preposterous oversized glasses. But, curiously, we also saw more polo shirts and tucked-in button-downs than we expected. Of course, the brahs had Muffy and Tiffini hanging off their tribal-tatted arms -- "OMG me and my sisters LOVE that 'I wish I had a boyfriend' song!" The first band, The Smith Westerns, had an aesthetic that reminded us of The Katies in the late '90s -- all striped sweaters and stringy hair and, weirdly, a flannel shirt. They sounded to us like sped-up Del Shannon, except dronier.
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Memphis' Magic Kids followed. The fresh-faced six-piece clearly have a following in the 615 -- the kids were excited for the Kids. They danced and swayed and held hands as the Magic Kids asked, "Where's your boyfriend?" and invited us all to go sailing and play with a Superball. It's the soundtrack to the afternoon after your dream date says they'll go to the prom with you. Unfortunately, that's not a sentiment The Spin is all that familiar with. Despite lead singer Bennett Foster's rocking perhaps the highest-waisted jeans ever seen on the hallowed Exit/In stage (coupled with a bright red Donald Duck sweatshirt), and despite our being annoyed by his Morrissey-like preening on the band's final number (although, the song did sound a bit like an upbeat Smiths tune), Magic Kids cast enough of a spell to have us thinking there might just be a sticky July afternoon waiting outside. It was disappointing to suck down a cigarette on a frigid February evening.
By 11, Girls had taken the stage and begun a set well-suited for the stage at The Bait Shop on The O.C.
Closing our eyes, we saw Seth and Summer sweetly kissing, and Ryan and Marissa hashing out their oh-so-complicated relationship again
. Girls played all their songs at the perfect volume to be heard but not obtrusive -- wouldn't wanna interrupt all that climactic dialogue, y'know. If Juno
had a prom, Girls would have played it.
This was a Nashville crowd more amped-up than most -- ready to dance, ready to kiss -- but the San Francisco treats just didn't bring enough. Not even when they played "Lust for Life." People sorta stood around through the first verse, as if waiting for the naughty video. The night's biggest reaction came as lead singer Christopher Owen explained he was going to play country-and-Western songs, pandering to a crowd who yelped with civic pride. To Owens, though, "country-and-Western songs" are songs that sound like the rest of his songs, just played to a waltz beat and featuring a harmonica solo.
That was about as innovative as Girls got. Yes, the crowd tapped its feet and one particularly excitable dude threw his hands up to testify, and yeah, the songs were a nice bit of summer novelty in the middle of the winter of our ennui. But as with the summer flings Girls recall, there wasn't much of import to take away from their performance.