Goat Girl: the band rebuilding London’s indie scene

Thanks to their guttural guitar music, the fun-loving foursome are leading a new wave of bands with no time for the blokeish arrogance of yore

If a teenager from London in 2006 came to survey youth culture in 2016, they would be confused, perhaps appalled. While their adolescence would have been populated by cocksure indie bands in drainpipe jeans playing packed all-ages concerts in warehouses and squats, the past decade has seen London lose many of its semi-legit venues as rampant gentrification and tighter regulation have spread through the city. That has meant it’s become harder to put on an impromptu show with no money. At the same time, there’s been a reaction against the masculinity of guitar bands. Young music types are more likely to be producers or weird arty savants like FKA twigs, who exist primarily online and are as likely to work with brands as their mates. Anarchic DIY groups such as Fat White Family do occasionally emerge, but tend to be older and more grizzled. The era of young fun bands seems to have stopped.

But quietly, the movement is resurfacing. In the pubs and community spaces of Peckham and Brixton there are a group of young bands who just want to hang out. They’re all chronicled in the scene’s zine, So Young Magazine, and include glam revivalists Happy Meal Ltd and grunge guys Fish. The best of the bunch are Goat Girl, a female four-piece who have just been signed to Rough Trade and – despite releasing just one single – are currently on the cover of trendy music magazine BEAT (whose past cover stars include Beyoncé).

“People help each other out. There are no promoters, we put shows on for free,” says vocalist Lottie of the burgeoning scene. They recognise that, as the capital is increasingly controlled by the rich, there’s a need for DIY scenes that are open to all. “There’s a lot of hostility in London – it’s nice to be able to just show up at a place and feel safe and know you’ll quickly make a friend.”

This scene feels as if it will outlast what happened in 2006. Firstly, the music is so much more important: bands haven’t just cribbed some Television chords so they can sing about girls they fancy. On Country Sleaze, Goat Girl demand “Touch my body, touch my soul/ Touch that deep and disused hole”, a guttural cry that would feel as true in the deep south as it does in Dulwich.

More importantly, the toxic arrogance that characterised much blokeish indie of the era has gone. Goat Girl are realists. I ask Ellie why there has been a dearth of young bands in the capital. “Being in a band, it’s like… well old, it’s been done for fucking ages. I think it’s not cool now.” That would probably be the biggest shocker to the 2006 teen, but by not trying to be cool, groups like Goat Girl might have just made being in a band fun again.

Goat Girl are touring to Saturday 28 January


Sam Wolfson

The GuardianTramp

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