Last week I went up to the Roundhouse with friends Shane and Tony to see Goat Girl play in the round, one of a short programme of concerts which are all-seated, forming the best part of a circle around the stage. It makes for an intimate setting, with good views, though perhaps with a less raucous atmosphere than when you have a thousand plus people standing.
It was good to see Goat Girl headlining the Roundhouse. They have come a long way since I first saw them in April 2017, supporting Moonlandingz at the Village Underground in Shoreditch. I really enjoyed them that night, much more than the headliners, and I’ve been following them with interest ever since. Tonight’s show was the sixth or seventh time I’ve seen them – mostly at festivals, though there was also an excellent show at Koko in Camden in November 2018. That show mostly featured music from their debut album, Goat Girl; tonight the set was heavily based on their 2021 album On All Fours, just as it was at Green Man last year. (I missed them at Latitude as they clashed with Chubby and the Gang!) Both albums are well worth getting to know. You have to listen to them a few times to get the full benefit. Then the melodies lodge, snatches of the lyrics burrow their way in, you appreciate the whole. The first album was punkier, with a hint of rockabilly in the way the songs twanged. Reggae and even country were in there too. On All Fours had a more rounded, produced sound, but the quirks and the biting lyrics were still there. And leading track Sad Cowboy took the band firmly into dance music territory. It’s no surprise that it is now the set closer.
Goat Girl were an all-woman band with four members when I first saw them; tonight there were six of them, with three men. The usual drummer, Rosy Bones, was absent – I don’t think it’s permanent, but it wasn’t referred to on the night (unless I missed it). The band don’t talk a lot to the audience anyway, though singer Lottie Pendlebury (previously known as Clottie Cream) did actually say a few words at the start of the show. She said that the gig was a kind of homecoming, as they used to practise at the Roundhouse when they were fifteen. They came across as relaxed and very pleased to be there. The sound was good and the lighting subtly enhanced the show. There was a dreaminess to the harmonies, and the music generally, that reminded me quite a lot of American band Warpaint. I do miss some of the more raw sounds of their earlier songs, when the guitars let rip and you were never quite sure where the sound was heading next. Two tunes from the first album did make it into the set – Viper Fish and Cracker Drool – but they’d had the edges smoothed off, in keeping with the rest of the music.
The performance lasted for an hour and livened up towards the end, especially when the played Pest, the opener from On All Fours. And Sad Cowboy was greeted enthusiastically as the set drew to an end. Some people even stood up and danced! It was 10.15 when that ended, and momentarily there was hope they might come back for an encore. I would have loved to see them rock out to The Man and Country Sleaze. But it was not to be. I’m not sure why they have abandoned so many of their best songs so soon – they could play a really good hour and a half set with a mix from their two albums and some of the early singles. Maybe they just feel that that earlier sound doesn’t represent where they are now – a lot has changed for everyone over the last couple of years after all.
So, yes, I really enjoyed the show, and will continue to watch out for them. And just maybe hope that they rediscover the urge to rock and roll.