Girl Ray‘s transformation from folky, winsome indiepop band into a full-on disco machine has been one of the more pleasing developments of the last five years. While I love their 2017 debut album, Earl Grey, the direction they began exploring with 2019’s Girl and then perfected on this year’s Prestige has been so rewarding and so fun, it’s really been a pleasure to see. It was an even bigger pleasure to see Girl Ray live on the first night of their US tour at Bushwick’s The Sultan Room, a show that BrooklynVegan presented.
This is the London band’s first time crossing the pond in five years, so it’s the first time we’ve gotten to hear any of the two most recent albums live. I will admit to being unsure how it would translate to the stage, but singer/guitarist Poppy Hankin, bassist Sophie Moss and drummer Iris McConnell — along with touring keyboardist/guitarist Luce Rushton (formerly of Deep Tan) — have clearly studied Chic, Donna Summer and other disco luminaries and can hold their own with the best of them.
Girl Ray’s Sultan Room set was a nonstop dance party, despite the extremely early 8:30 PM set time (the opening act dropped off the bill last minute, but it was already an early show). Decked out in personalized tracksuits, the band cherry-picked the best bangers from Girl and Prestige, opening with the great “True Love,” and kept the full house bouncing the whole set. The crowd was very enthusiastic and Poppy, Sophie and Iris were beaming the whole time. For the encore, the played a terrific cover of Everything But the Girl’s “Missing” (the Todd Terry remix, of course) before finishing with their Hot Chip-produced single “Give Me Your Love.” Fantastic show.
Check out photos by P Squared and the setlist from Girl Ray’s Sultan Room show below.
Having played the DC area on Saturday, Girl Ray’s tour hits El Paso tonight for the first of four Texas shows with Alan Palomo (Neon Indian) and then heads to the West Coast before wrapping up in Chicago. All Girl Ray dates are listed below.
If you go see them, be sure to hit the merch table, which is full of all sorts of unusual items, including a an array of bumper stickers, a personal Certificate of Prestigiousness, and more. As Poppy wrote on The Talkhouse recently, touring the US is prohibitively expensive for most smaller international bands — they launched a crowdfund campaign to help finance this visit — and buying some stuff will help pay for gas and meals.
SETLIST: Girl Ray @ The Sultan Room 10/20/2023
Show Me More
Everybody’s Saying That
Friend Like That
Love is Enough
Give Me Your Love
Girl Ray – 2023 Tour Dates
Mon-Oct-23 El Paso, TX Lowbrow Palace w/ Alan Palomo
Thu-Oct-26 San Antonio, TX Paper Tiger w/ Alan Palomo
Fri-Oct-27 Austin, TX LEVITATION w/ Alan Palomo
Sat-Oct-28 Dallas, TX Ferris Wheelers w/ Alan Palomo
Mon-Oct-30 Seattle, WA Barboza
Tue-Oct-31 Portland, OR Polaris Hall
Thu-Nov-02 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill
Fri-Nov-03 Los Angeles, CA Gold-Diggers
Sat-Nov-04 La Jolla, CA The Loft @ UC San Diego
Mon-Nov-06 Chicago, IL Sleeping Village