Is this what the kids are up to these days?
(Photos: Emma-Jane Browne)
Doug Fir Lounge
Portland, OR 09/01/2018
Is this what the kids are up to these days? After the drummer (never introduced) took the stage and crashed through instrumental “Whitewater,” Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton of Let’s Eat Grandma appeared. Both just 19 years old, the UK duo played a brief-but-memorable show featuring the shimmering future pop found on buzzy new album I’m All Ears. Standing behind identical keyboards, the girls launched into the bubblegum nightmare of “Hot Pink,” the brainchild of hot producer SOPHIE and goth-punk revivalist Faris Badwan of the Horrors.
Something felt odd about watching these girls perform at a show earmarked for those of us 21 and over, but these young ladies knew exactly what they were doing. “I’m just an object of disdain to you/ I’m only 17, I don’t know what you mean” goes one refrain of “Hot Pink” before the song explodes into a clubby dance number. It wouldn’t be the only time during the 40-minute set where Hollingworth and Walton played upon the stereotypes that come with young women performing serious music.
Though both singers looked similar with long curly hair covering their faces, their differences emerged throughout the set. Walton, still in braces, was the more confident dancer, stepping away from her keyboard to show off her moves or play her Fender Mustang. Hollingworth was the more intense of the pair, wearing baggier clothes and hiding behind her hair. She did, however, play a mean saxophone.
The eight-song set focused heavy on I’m All Ears with only encore “Deep Six Textbook” as the sole representative of debut album, I, Gemini (2016). Though the songs barely strayed in form from recorded versions, Let’s Eat Grandma put on a thoroughly charming show. Rather than glue themselves behind their keyboards, the girls stepped out to dance, play other instruments, lay together on the floor and play patty-cake (in what could only be a nod to a friendship that began when they were in kindergarten). At one point, Hollingworth even pulled a dude up from the crowd and danced with him for the entirety of a song.
The duo closed the show with the towering “Donnie Darko,” a nearly 12-minute suite that shifts from psychedelic pop to disco. By its end, everyone around me in the club was dancing along, hungry for more and likely disappointed with the concert’s scant 40-minute runtime. It’s always great to leave an audience wanting more and Let’s Eat Grandma feels like they are on an upward trajectory. It won’t be long before they fill even bigger rooms with their clubby, bulletproof pop music.