The Button Factory doesn’t make music. They’re a music factory and their high-powered machinery melts faces. The faces being melted tonight are brought to you by Pillow Queens. This is an Indie Fuzz Dream Pop group that knows what they’re doing. What’s that you say? (It’s hard to hear you through the magazine pages or the series of tubes which is the internet). Speak up! What’s that? Who are the Pillow Queens? I just told you, but I’ll dig in deeper. Grab a shovel.
Pillow Queens hail from Ireland.
Breathe, that’s a lot of new information to swallow. Digest it and I’ll scoop you some more. Pillow Queens are from Dublin, Ireland. (Well, essentially. More on that later).
Woah, quit with the geography lesson professor knowledge: (what you’re probably thinking or saying out loud to no one in particular at your local Starbucks.) Spoiler alert: they’re all ladies. The name is a tad tongue-in-cheek (most likely more than a tad, it’s definitely in there) and the music is just as fun as their name. Their guitar tone alone is worth spending an evening out with these girls. There’s a deep and crisp guitar tone, reminiscent of Graham Coxon in Blur, that slices like a hot knife through vegan butter. Every member is solid physically, elementally and musically.
I stumbled because of the cobblestone street, onto the premises after a quick music venue query online and saw the Temple Bar fixture. Temple Bar is where the college crowd celebrates, and the drinking crowd go to work. It’s like Adam’s Morgan in Washington D.C. or if Elm street, here in Manchester, New Hampshire, was more pedestrian-friendly. Beer flowed from the tap into eager cups as the floor filled up with eager concert-goers. This was a local band that was returning home from tour and the warm welcome was appreciated by the band. “I can’t believe how many people are here,” Pam said. Pam is the groovy lead singer who plays guitar as well. Sarah plays bass, Cathy is on lead guitar and Rachel rounds-it-out on the drums.
“It’s very nice to see a lot of friendly faces, isn’t it?” She continued. Sarah added, “I’m fuckin’ not really lookin’ at ya,” to which Pam replied, “All the same, it’s very nice.” There was a pause.
“We’ve had some dodgy banter,” Pam stated. It’s refreshing to hear a band that, not only is talented but is having a fun time on stage. The band members actually seemed to like each other.
A couple of Smithwick’s red ales into the concert, Pillow Queens decided to play their newest single. “It’s a song we released just before Christmas, and it’s called ‘Gay Girls,’” Pam said to the elation of the crowd. “Take it away Sarah,” Pam said. The song started off saturating every fiber of the club in a dream mesh of chills. Cathy turned on the fuzz in a brilliant riff that rides on top of their wave of sound. The song also showcased Pam’s excellent voice and the beautiful harmonies of the entire group.
At a certain point Sarah is concerned, and rightly so, at the prospect of being singled out: “A bass solo?” she asked. A proper concern and is a sign of a bassist that knows what they’re doing. This is not surprising for this band since they all know what they’re doing. Pillow Queens understand balance in sound that’s required to make a song sonically shine. This doesn’t shy them away from layering complexity into their craft though, and their tracks are just as bright and textured as they exist in the studio version. Prime examples of this are featured in “Favourite” and “Rats.” Both songs contain memorable melodies and razor-sharp hooks. The latter prompting Pam to ask, “We’d appreciate a little sing-along.” A request this audience was happy to grant.
My favorite song, (and no pun intended) they performed was “Puppets.” One reason could be the fuzz-a-licious guitar solo at the end. Another is the structure of the song itself. Everything is in its right place. There’s no note out of order. Unfortunately, the show had to end. Every member wanted “to thank everyone that’s been on this tour.” Pillow Queens were opening for a band called Soak. Soak is a great band, especially if you love electronic dream pop. This article isn’t about Soak though, so check them out but do it on your own time.
Fortunately, I was able to speak with Pam and Sarah at the end of the show. This is where I learn the band’s deepest and darkest secret. Apparently Rachael is actually from Kildare and Cathy is from Wicklow. Counties nearby but not actually Dublin. I can’t stay mad though so we start talking about their penchant for Telecaster guitars. “When I think of Telecaster,” Pam said, “I think of Bruce Springsteen, which is why I automatically like it.” Sarah added, “Cathy wants to play this goth SG. It’s a black Gibson that’s got like pointy little heads on it.” Think of Ozzy Osbourne or AC/DC and you’ll be able to picture it perfectly. Sarah had flirted with the idea of a Gibson but dropped that idea like an easily droppable object. “I played a Gibson Les Paul Studio and it was too fucking heavy.”
I enquired about their excellent guitar tone and I had truth bombs dropped from on high. “Big Muff, that’s Cathy’s domain so we’re speaking on behalf of her,” Pam said and qualified her statement by saying, “but yeah, she’s a Big Muff diver. There’s a story there.” Word on the street is that this is the term given to lovers of the Electro-Harmonix guitar pedal that is titled Big Muff. It creates a fuzz-tastic crunch that’s unmatched, but a lot of that is because of Cathy’s expert ability.
Our interview is cut short as the bouncers start brooming out the trash and anyone that happens to be left inside. It might be the shouting of security and their menacing stares, but I have a suspicion that I’m being kicked out of the Button Factory. I ask the band and they agree. “Yeah, I think they are,” Pam replied. “Awkward,” said Sarah.