Live Review: Girls In Synthesis, Holy Reptile + gaw at The Louisiana, Bristol

It’s a rainy and dark Bristol evening, and after a few wrong turns, I’ve finally found The Louisiana. This venue has been a regular on the touring circuit for donkey’s years, but it’s my first time here, hence the panic and excitement of visiting a venue I’ve seen on umpteen posters throughout the years. Talking of excitement, I’ve been a fan and written about Girls in Synthesis for a few years now. The last review I did of theirs was of their ‘Watch with Mother’ single here,  so I’m just a tad excited to see them live finally.

Girls In Synthesis are sitting outside, but I’m far too shy to go and speak to them, so I order a coke, find a quiet table inside, log onto Twitter and sit back and watch the latest government meltdown unfold before my very eyes. The doors open and everyone tramps upstairs to watch first support band gaws who are a Bristol/Bath 5 piece. They make an almighty post punky racket and have a good local support. Next up are Holy Reptile who are another local band (also with good support) who also create an almighty racket but are more post rock/shoegaze with their layers of noise. It’s intense and all encompassing. Tidy.

Girls In Synthesis take to the stage and immediately launch into ‘Watch with Mother’ off their latest LP The Rest Is Distraction. The band are taught, tight and loud as fuck. Linger (Bass) immediately positions himself front of stage and stares into the crowd with a piercing glare. He is a continuous malevolent presence throughout the set and several times nearly takes me out with his bass head stock. The tension. The discomfort. The threat. I fucking love it.

Follow up ‘Pressure’ (the only track off Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future played tonight) is delivered with an intensity and immediacy that is increased immeasurably when played live. Linger adopts a spreadeagled stance whilst playing and stares blankly into the audience. Brilliant stuff. Next up is ‘The Engine’ off the Konsumrausch EP which was a 5-track 12″ vinyl release on the German ‘Hound Gawd! Record’. The play between the impeccable time keeping of Pinto, and the guitar and bass play off of Cubitt and Linger respectively is just a joy to watch as the sonic pounding is getting increasingly vicious. Thank the lord for ear plugs.

‘Screaming’ and ‘Lacking Bite’ are both off the new LP and are again both aural and visual attacks. Linger’s bass is again precariously close to my face, and I swear I can feel his breath on my face. This isn’t just a gig. It’s theatre. They proceed with ‘Pulling Teeth’, again off ‘Konsumrausch’ and ‘We Might Not Make Tomorrow’ which is off their 2018 We Might Not Make Tomorrow E​.​P. This set list reminds me of previous gigs by The Fall. Like The Fall, they aren’t afraid to ‘not play the hits’ to please the audience, and instead prefer to paint from whatever sonic palette they deem suitable for that night. It’s also a sign of the quality and quantity of tracks they have built up over the years. The number of omissions from the Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future LP is testament to this. What no ’Arterial Movements’? No ‘They’re not Listening’? The choice they have is astounding.

‘My Husband’ and ‘Cottage Industry’ both off the new LP are performed with the same intensity of the first song of the night. This band never lacks the energy, enthusiasm or professionalism no matter where they play, or the size of the audience.

Final song ‘Enveloped’ off Konsumrausch is a tight, noisy and experimental affair with both Linger and Cubitt starting to leave their respective ‘areas’ to experiment and play opposite each other. There is noise, feedback, thrown mic stands, Linger howling into his mic on the dancefloor, Cubitt manipulating his keyboard and guitar to crushing effect, whilst Pinto brings them into line and to a climatic cacophonic close.

Just like the chaos that is happening in Westminster, this is by no means the end. This is just the beginning. But the future is bright with Girls in Synthesis. This is one of the UKs greatest bands around now. You just don’t realise it yet. Catch them where you can and listen to the future here.

Girls In Synthesis are:John Linger (bass / vocals), Jim Cubitt (guitar / keys) and Nicole Pinto (drums)

‘The Rest Is Distraction’ was released on Friday 14th October 2022 via the band’s own label Own It/Cargo Records.

Catch the band live at the rest of their European dates, including a few back in the UK:

09/11/22 – GHENT – Bar Bricolage [w. Cocaine Piss]
10/11/22 – BRUSSELS – Magasin4
11/11/22 – TOURNAI – Water Moulin
12/11/22 – SIEGEN – Veb Siegen
13/11/22 – HAMBURG – Westwerk
14/11/22 – COPENHAGEN – Rahuset
15/11/22 – ODENSE – Posten
16/11/22 – BERLIN – Urban Spree
17/11/22 – FRIEBURG – Slow Club
18/11/22 – WURZBURG – Cafe Cairo
19/11/22 – NUREMBERG – Desi
20/11/22 – UTRECHT – Db’s
07/12/22 – GLASGOW – The Flying Duck
08/12/22 – NEWCASTLE – Zerox
09/12/22 – HULL – The Adelphi
10/12/22 – BIRMINGHAM – Dark Horse


Review and photography by Ioan Humphreys

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