Indie rock and folk punk band Girlpool has filled my headphones since high school. As a teenager, I identified with their honest lyrics about growing up and their poetic expression. The Los Angeles-based band was formed in 2014 by Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad. Their debut album, “Before the World Was Big,” was released in 2015, when both were still teenagers. In this way, I felt like I grew up alongside them, so going to their concert on Nov. 3 at the Masquerade felt like seeing old friends.
Girlpool opened with the title track “123” from their newest album “Powerplant,” which was released in May 2017. Recently, Tucker came out as transgender and has since transitioned. Tucker’s voice has deepened significantly since the transition, and, as a result, the whole group’s sound has also evolved. The harmonies that the group was known for are still present, but there is a certain duality and fullness added by the more masculine voice.
The duality of the group’s voices held true with their contrasting performances. Tividad played the more relaxed bassist, whereas Tucker was the more energetic guitarist. But Girlpool was not rigid in their roles: at one point during the concert, they switched and played each other’s instruments with the same mastery and bravado. Similarly, Tucker and Tividad casually conversed with the audience when they weren’t singing, sometimes even engaging in one-on-one chats with audience members in between sets.
Despite playing songs mostly from “Powerplant,” such as “Lucy’s” and “It Gets More Blue” (which features the great line, “the nihilist tells you that nothing is true / I said ‘I faked global warming’ just to get close to you”), they also played from “Before the World Was Big.” From this first album they performed “Ideal World,” as well as “Chinatown” in their encore. Hearing their oldest music with their new sound was beautiful — it signified their evolution as a band. In contrast to their recorded sound, Girlpool’s live sound featured a heavier rock note that at times resembled a more punk sound.
Before Girlpool’s performance, synth-pop band Porches, musician Aaron Maine’s synth-pop New York-based project took the stage. The dance-inducing rhythms and dreamy synth were a perfect contrast to Girlpool’s more instrumental set. Much to the crowd’s delight, they played hits like “Underwater” and “Car” from their second studio album “Pool.”
Seeing Girlpool live was unexpectedly nostalgic. The concert showcased a journey through Girlpool’s musical career as well as their transition from teenage to adult life. They performed songs from their first album, released when they were still in high school, to current singles that highlight their more actualized and assured adult selves. To see and hear both played on one stage made for a highly personal and intimate experience.