Concert Review: "This Isn’t About the Perfect Black T-Shirt" - Porches & Girl Ray @ Théâtre Plaza, Feb. 18, 2018

It seems to be my thing to go to concerts of bands that I’ve never heard of before. This has been my third time taking part in this tradition and by far it has been the best one. Going into this, I was really expecting lo-fi, chill indie vibe-y music that the crowd would sway back and forth too. I wasn’t wrong, but I was definitely missing a significant part of the concert.

Girl Ray was the first act, blowing up with strong beats and soaring melodies that made my heart melt. And, to my surprise, the millennial Mile-End hipster crowd was actually dancing. Girl Ray is a three-piece band from North London, creating music about teenage angst and young love, reflecting in their popular single “Stupid Things”, all about losing yourself in a crush. Self-identifying as a ‘Girl Power Trio’ or ‘Estrogen Rock’, my riot grrl loving self totally fell head over heels for this band, especially when lead singer/guitarist Poppy Hankin and bassist Sophie Moss danced in half circles to the beat of the song.

As soon as Girl Ray’s epic guitar riffs ended, the crowd size tripled and pushed towards the stage. There was an electric buzz around the venue as we eagerly watched the empty stage. The members of Porches quitely crawled on stage, nobody really noticed them until they started playing. Just after their first song, lead singer Aaron Maine declared that his t-shirt, in fact, was a perfect black t-shirt, spreading his arms wide and thanking the audience. During the next song break, he stated that no, it’s not about the t-shirt, it was about us, and the band and the music. The way Aaron Maine spoke to us, the audience, felt so informal and friendly, like we were his friends, lounging on his couch and hanging out.

Most of the songs Porches played had a significant portion of chaotic sound, usually at the very beginning or end, that would either drop into or out of the regular beat, something that really differentiates Porches from other indie rock bands. During one of the slower songs, I specifically remember thinking, “These melodies are like a soft blanket, floating down and covering me”, as if the sound was all-encompassing and heavy; I could feel moving through the air and weighing down my body.

Porches is one of those bands that is reminiscent of the idealistic teenage house party, with colored lights and smoky rooms and dancing and plush couches, similar to Troye Sivan’s music video for "YOUTH". The bright stage lights, smoke machines and throbbing crowd really reflected that as well; when I closed my eyes I could feel the shag carpet under my feet in the imaginary house party that me and the entire audience were attending.

Porches closed out with their 2013 song “Headsgiving”, focusing on a relationship and wavering mental states. The lyric “She was just 17” really stuck out to me, for this concert was on the eve of my seventeenth birthday and I felt like if I didn’t wholly relish and soak in my adolescence then I would forever regret it. But both Girl Ray and Porches reminded me that I am nowhere near the end of my youth.