The three-piece band Mysterines opened for Sea Girls at Bristol venue, The Fleece. Even listening to them before the gig left me unprepared for their loud, fairly heavy style, a ride which warmed up the crowd on what seemed like the first cold day of the year.
When the main act came on to the stage of this sold-out venue, the expectation was palpable. Sea Girls’ singalong hits like ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ are massive enough to fill a stadium, with almost everyone following the remarkable vocal line which impressively hit every peak live as perfectly as in the track. This high standard is unsurprising, with their festival performances taking them to the acclaimed BBC Radio One stage at Reading and Leeds. The band still manage to retain an intimacy to their performance though, perhaps naturally so given that the group have been friends since school. The way they styled out their new pieces was particularly unique. I felt like I was singing along even when I didn’t know the words. These were songs I wanted to know, to shout while gripping the barriers in front of a smaller stage, or amongst a mob in an arena.
After a couple of recent songs, they soon warmed into some new material, well received by a roomful of people bopping along, moving through ‘Shape’, an indie rock landslide, and ‘Ready for More’, a true alternative banger. However, there was still plenty of ultra-fans sporting Sea Girls’ sharp and effective logo on their shirts, who exhaled when their favourite tunes came out in full force. These were the times when the band seemingly transformed into their real rockstar style, Henry locking eyes with the front rows, guitarist Rory Young throwing himself about the stage, Andrew Dawson doubled over his bass while Oli Khan’s hair jumps along with the beat of the drums.
Interviewing Oli before the show made the walk through almost the entirety of the band’s discography seem like a trip back in time, and for us not too far, their first single having been released only two years ago. However, having heard from Oli about being in a band with Henry and Andrew for almost ten years, I got a feel for their history, and how they’ve come so far.
Oli told me about how their style has developed, with everyone in the band writing parts of songs, coming together, and working things out to arrive at their stylised “indie rock with a pop twist.” He reminisced about going to Leeds festival when they were younger and about the awe of watching Kings of Leon. This summer they performed on the same stage they once watched Foals perform on. I was most interested to hear about their song writing; the kind of themes Oli expressed were of discovery such as finding love or past friends, and it made me think about growing up. Their songs seem to have reminiscence in common, like ‘Too Much Fun’ with its synth afterburners, or ‘Violet’ which seems uncannily like 20th century rock for the 21st century. The strange thing is that applying most of their songs to your own life isn’t too much of a stretch – I know I’d often rather be “in a freshman year when we just got here” as in ‘Damage Done’. What Sea Girls offer is the chance to replay intense, sensational snapshots of their past, your past, but to live them in the breadth of a song, then keep on moving.
This personal aura of the band shone through as twice Henry dropped down into the crowd, and (incredibly still singing perfectly) roamed among the fans as they parted for him in reverence, an almost signature move. Even after the gig, they waited around until almost everyone was gone to take pictures and sign various things. I, for one, was happy that I got that chance to tell Oli how much I enjoyed the gig.
It was this blend of showmanship and storytelling, a sharp and unique style, but most of all the humility of experimentation that I took away from my Sea Girls experience. It reminded me of a band at uni, playing in a garage, trying things out, doing what they enjoy most and doing that thing until they come across something new and special. I think in the future I’d like to pay more attention to who the artists I listen to are as people: I want to know what they look like and where they went to school, and who they listened to when they were kids. It seems that music isn’t just about the recording you make in the studio or on stage, but all the years spent writing things you don’t record, to come up with both the skills you use to create with and the experiences that you write about. As Oli said to me “don’t dwell on the songs that are rubbish, keep moving”. It’s inspiring to see that process bring such success to such a young band.
Sea Girls’ UK tour continues throughout October.
Image Source: Chuff Media