Even with a shot of whiskey for warmth, it was a jarringly cold night. But the promise of seeing Single Girl, Married Girl play their eclectic brew of folk-pop was more than enough to coax us out to Queens in the brisk winter weather. Thanks to the Astoria Music Collective, who have been uniting the community and booking great little shows throughout the neighborhood, it all came together at The Quays Pub, an unquestionably Irish bar with a come-right-in vibe.
As the drinks poured in the cozy confines of Quays, Single Girl, Married Girl got things warmed up with “Gentle on My Mind,” “How About Now,” and the 60s-spy-theme-esque “So She Runs,” three songs that were striking enough to grab the noisy bar crowd’s attention – and bring them down to an impressive, hushed level of focus. That was perfect timing for their next song, a thoughtful Nirvana cover that traded “Polly”’s most lonesome verses for intricate group harmonies, highlighting all of its subtle chord changes. “I felt God,” their guitarist, Charlie Rauh, whispered with hilarious intensity once they finished. And it wasn’t the only song they’d reimagine. After “Ghost of L.A.,” “Dirty Water” (the first single from their forthcoming album, which we proudly premiered a few weeks back), and the well-timed “Walking on Water,” SGMG brought out an awesome cover of Big Star’s “Thirteen” that brought the crowd back to 1972.
Chelsey Coy, who had carefully scribbled their setlist on the chalkboard by the stage, was an unstoppable frontwoman. Commanding the room in a vintage-style red velvet dress, sparkly gold shoes, and her playful pixie cut, she delivered bold, soulful vocals that set the mood for each song – all while fluidly dancing as if she were all alone on the beach. With Shannon Söderland, a force in her own right, singing backup, the vocals alone almost stole the show. ‘Almost,’ because SGMG’s tightly synergistic band – featuring Charlie’s incredible guitar work (on a one-of-a-kind 23.5” Island Traveller guitar, handcrafted in Montreal), John Gray on upright bass, Oskar Haggdahl on drums, and Chelsey herself on banjo – was nothing to mess with. They finished off their set strong with “Innocent Hearts,” “Galapagos,” and “I Don’t Care.” In one of SGMG’s many quick, memorable moments, Chelsey turned to bounce along happily with Oskar’s final drum hits as the whole band broke into smiles.
“Usually in a bar, nobody’s quiet,” Chelsey told us after their set. “But everyone was very quiet, and you can feel that. You can feel when they’re paying attention to you. It’s tough when you’re in a bar and they have tons of whiskey and beer on tap, and no one is there to hear the music.” she laughed. “But here it’s so great. There’s definitely a scene in Astoria.”
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley