Hinds leads neon beach-rock party at The Independent

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Caroline Smith/Staff

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Hinds needed no introduction Saturday night at its sold-out show at The Independent — and yet a huge blue banner did so on the band’s behalf, endearingly emblazoned with, “Hi we’re Hinds and we came here to rock.”

Swatches of neon paint coated the eyelids of the Madrid-based four-piece, a girl group with overwhelmingly cheerful beach-rock exuberance. Neon pink and royal blue lights washed the stage; the members were clad in vintage finds, from a frilly day dress to an Elton John and Billy Joel joint tour shirt.

Hinds is incomparable live, with every lyric and guitar strum more enunciated and vibrant than on the band’s records. The crowd knew this, launching into a mosh pit a mere minute into Hinds’ concert opener — and the opener of its recent album I Don’t Run — “The Club.” This moshing continued, characterized more by its laughter and playful jostling than intense elbowing, every bit as lighthearted and fun as Hinds’ discography.

Even for slower tracks such as “Linda,” the crowd affably continued to conduct a slower, more sway-like mosh. In perhaps the band’s most endearing live performance characteristic, the vocalists emoted every lyric, their faces explicitly expressive throughout.

While some bands may choose to perform every song, even sadder and slower tracks, with the upbeat atmosphere easily amassed at a live rock show, Hinds guitarists and lead vocalists Ana García Perrote and Carlotta Cosials fully appeared to be experiencing heartbreak in real time as they sung of its woes. And then for “Soberland,” their faces lit up as they screamed the manic, lovestruck lyrics.

They rolled their R’s as they swayed their hips, finding their groove on the fourth song of their set — a cover of Kevin Ayers’ “Caribbean Moon” — as they crooned its chorus, their Spanish accents gorgeously impacting their enunciation of each vowel. Perrote, Cosials and bassist Ade Martín laughed as they launched into a coordinated routine center stage, leaning forward and backward on the beat as they strummed.

It was a concert wholly for the fans, though the group remained unfazed by the audience’s constant crowd-surfing and stage-diving, even when a stage-jumper’s foot jostled Cosial’s mic stand. The bandmates remained smiling, never missing a beat.

Many of Hinds’ improvised moments between songs were filled with acapella, two-line covers of seemingly spontaneously selected songs, including The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” though the band did take a moment to teach the crowd how to make the Hinds “H” symbol with their hands — the sign of the horns rock ‘n’ roll symbol, but where the middle two fingers don’t quite reach the palm and the thumb remains adjacent to the index finger.

But this all changed when a man in the front row told Martín it was his birthday. Her face lit up as she invited him onstage, and he happily obliged. Perrote laughed and covered the man with her guitar as he unzipped his fly and took off his pants, revealing a tattoo of the deer that graces the cover of the 2015 Very Best of Hinds So Far on his right thigh.

In short, the band is quirky-cute. Its members are their own dream girls. “In the second album … we tried to not avoid the fact that we’re girls and we have girls’ issues,” Perrote said.

The unapologetic femininity that characterizes I Don’t Run might be the smartest choice of the band’s career. The singing is high-pitched, the lyrics cutesy, and the music is exceptional because of it. The members bridge the best of beach rock with ‘90s girl punk, wrapping their style up with a unique, Madrid-informed style.

Hinds invited the opener, Goodbye Honolulu, onstage to join in “Davey Crockett,” just as it did with Twin Peaks the last time it came to San Francisco. All but drummer Amber Grimbergen sprayed the audience with champagne — it was a 21-plus show, after all — and passed around the bottles so the audience could take swigs. Just as Hinds’ vocalists sing in “Tester,” “We are just having fun” — and as trite as it may sound, that’s exactly what the rock band did, wholeheartedly, energetically and joyfully.

Caroline Smith is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].