On Feb. 24, I bought day-of tickets to a Gilla Band concert, knowing little to nothing about the band or their discography.
Based in Dublin, Gilla Band (formerly Girl Band) is a quartet specializing in post-punk and noise-rock. Vocalist Dara Kiely, guitarist Alan Duggan, bassist Daniel Fox and drummer Adam Faulkner began the North American leg of their world tour on Feb. 10 in Los Angeles. On Feb. 24, they held a three-hour concert at the live-music venue Sonia in Cambridge, which included opening performances from Pure Adult and Kal Marks.
Their tour follows the release of their third studio album, “Most Normal.” The album debuted on Oct. 7, 2022, and was anticipated by the lead singles “Eight Fivers,” “Backwash” and “Post Ryan.” Evidently, songs from “Most Normal” made up the majority of the show; however, their setlist was diversified by songs from their two earlier albums and EP “The Early Years.” Notably, though, their newest song “Sports Day,” which was released on Feb. 7, 2023, was not performed.
Until the concert, I was only tangentially familiar with the band. A recent obsession with Fontaines D.C.’s newest album “Skinty Fia” shepherded me into the realm of Irish post-punk, where I first heard of Gilla Band. The deciding factor, though, was two of my friends individually choosing to see them: one at the Los Angeles show, and the other at the Berkeley show. Each of them raved about the concert, which gave me no choice but to look up if they were coming to the Boston area.
So, when my roommate told me that she was already planning on driving into Boston on the same Friday night, I decided that my stars had aligned in the form of a carpool. Now I had an excuse to invest $18 into a concert encased by the unknown.
Mere moments before they took the stage, Jeremy Snyder, frontman of Pure Adult, offered an accurate description of Gilla Band: “They are as delightful as they are … loud.” Insighting an internal debate as to whether I should have brought earplugs like the two-thirds of prepared fans that did, these words echoed through my head. Eventually, though, all I could hear was Faulkner’s methodic drumming as the band began their first song of the night, “Lawnman.”
The band seamlessly wove through their setlist, making it hard to decipher when one song ended and another began. Occasionally, Kiely paused between songs to check in on the crowd, once chuckling “Are you guys okay? Because we certainly are not.”
Almost as meticulously characteristic as Gilla Band’s use of their self-oscillating noise synth box, the fashion of the crowd was its own spectacle. The untrained eye would have assumed that wearing a cuffed beanie was a requirement for getting through the door. But, perhaps, these beanies were merely a tool for establishing who was the biggest Gilla Band fan, as they immediately started falling off as the crowd partook in the most intense moshing I had ever seen during “Eight Fivers.”
I am a huge proponent of going to concerts where one knows little to nothing about the performing artist. I believe that such concerts can feel much more organic, allowing the concertgoer to receive a complete introduction to the performer, specifically an introduction that is free of expectation.
This past fall, for example, I saw Angel Olsen perform during her 2022 Europe and UK tour. Having never heard her music before, I bought tickets simply to accompany my friend who had already planned on going. To my surprise, what transpired was one of the best live music performances I had ever seen. Olsen is now one of my most listened to artists.
Gilla Band was hardly any different. I spent those three hours on that Friday night being swept away completely by their music, their stage-presence, their lighting and their fans. While their music definitely strays from what I typically listen to, their concert gave me a delightful insight into their artistic world. It was definitely worth the horrendous 20 minutes I spent parallel parking in Cambridge on a Friday night.