- Gilbert Cisneros
Something you should know about Baby Gurl: They do nothing conventionally. Case in point: This Facebook post from drummer/vocalist Jordan Fairbanks announcing the two-man noise band's upcoming gig with another two-man band, Big Business. Here it is, presented for fun as a pseudo-Mad Libs sentence: "You ever [brown noun] yourself, but you're acting like a cat (school project, I swear) and so you start to clean yourself up but you're a cat and the only way you know how to clean yourself is to [verb] your feline self all over, then you end up eating your own [brown noun], 'cause you're a cat? Yeah. Come watch us do that."
In spite of the scatological humor and the coprophagia, that's kind of a nice metaphor for Baby Gurl—you know, in the sense that Fairbanks and bassist/vocalist Chris Wadsworth operate on unfiltered instinct, musically and otherwise. An earlier Facebook pouting said, perhaps apropos of nothing, "Hey [effwerd]heads. Get your [downtown noun] lubed up. We shot some [brown noun] to shove in your [pink noun]."
"You know the Big Business show is canceled, right?" Wadsworth says as he lights a cigarette outside Uptown Music, where Baby Gurl practices. In case it wasn't obvious, Baby Gurl's FB outbursts should be interpreted as self-deprecating and self-defecating enthusiasm. Big Business puts on a hell of a show, and the Gurls were pretty stoked about playing with them. It's a bummer, but they're taking it in stride. Brown noun happens.
Like when Baby Gurl was nominated for Best Metal Act and Best Live Act in City Weekly's Best of Utah Music 2016. Those who nominated them did so in all seriousness, with the utmost respect—likewise for the diversity of fans who sing their praises—but Fairbanks and Wadsworth don't really see why. "We're not really a metal band," Fairbanks says. "And we're not really good live. Man, people got those wrong!"
It's not difficult to understand why people like Baby Gurl. They're a couple of goofballs who feel they're most photogenic when baring their chests, who posed for a portrait beneath another portrait of two bears (a cheeky juxtaposition of ursine pairs), whose 2013 debut album A Name and a Blessing boasts songs like "Crotchfruit" and "Tuna In The Key Of Pussy," and whose current, year-old album is called Incompoop. Alone, this is nothing special. It's when Baby Gurl plays that their Wonder Twin powers activate (we'll elaborate later).
Fairbanks and Wadsworth are local music vets. Fairbanks played in a handful of loud bands, most notably Eons and Madea; Wadsworth was a founding member of alt-rock outfit Medicine Circus, "shitty punk rock" band Heathen Ass Worship and power-pop band Long Distance Operator. The two had mutual friends, and one day in 2007, Fairbanks cold-called Wadsworth to see if he wanted to play bass for Madea. He didn't, because LDO had just recorded an album with producer-engineer Matt Winegar (Primus). "I said, 'Fuck you, chump!'" Wadsworth blurts.
Six years later, Wadsworth officially met Fairbanks through a hookup app. The latter's profile said, "I'm all about music," so that union came first. Wadsworth says with a belch, "I said, 'Jordan, let's play some music. But when I say music, I mean, let's shit all over our instruments and call it a song.'"
The pair tried out a few different guitarists before Josh West, Wadsworth's old HAW and LDO bandmate, put down his instrument and told Baby Gurl they didn't need guitar. "He said, 'Just do what you guys are doing. It sounds awesome,'" Wadsworth recalls.
What Baby Gurl does is a sludgy rumble that's at once cartoonish and epic. It's not remotely accessible, at least in the conventional sense. There's enough metal, punk and noise for fans of each to latch on to—as well as some prog, jazz and experimental touchstones—but not enough of each for the easy application of a label. Noise is as close as anyone gets, even the band. But let's stop short of coining a new name for it, or indulging in the vanity of naming a new genre for the band.
Or should we? It might fittingly describe the intersection of Wadsworth's fuzzy bass riffs and licks, and Fairbanks' sick, robotically precise drumming, surprisingly judicious use of hallucinatory effects and samples, and the pair's relentless parade of dick and poop jokes. Especially since Fairbanks and Wadsworth both insist that there wasn't a conscious effort to create a particular sound. True to his joke about befouling their own instruments, Wadsworth says, "It's just what came out."
So what do we call it? Babygurl? Bbygrrl? Just gurl? Maybe it needs its own term, sans self-reference. Kinda like Heathen Ass Worship and their "sexgrab" music. Given the excretory theme, maybe it's brown noun. I dunno. One thing I do know, is Baby Gurl is definitely the shit.