Words by Kate Lockyer
On the night that brought the Australian leg of British indie pop band Sea Girls’ international tour to Brisbane, we witnessed magic. An eager energy of the crowd at The Zoo and full throttle performance from the band left everyone on a high – on a Wednesday!
Before Sea Girls took to the stage, openers Friends of Friends played a dazzling rock set. Hailing from Southeast Queensland, the band delivered an uber-tight set that left me, as a newcomer to their music, very impressed.
A dark stage and winding synth mark the start of their performance, the beat of drums, and an insistent riff from the rhythm guitar. The whole band, and particularly the vocalist, has a real stage presence. When they play The Bends, their newest release, kicking off with the chorus in soaring vocals and crashing cymbals, I can feel deeply the tension and darkness in the lyrics, but am glad of this gig, a chance for us all to feel it and then dance it off together.
An innocent boyish charm peeks quietly around their hard-cased, gritty sound, showcased in Bleachers (On and On). The lyrics play cleverly with this juxtaposition as well as they sing, “I’ve never seen God but I’ve seen hell and she’s the closest thing to heaven that I’ve ever felt”. Like a hymn for those questioning – society, and love.
In Human, funky slings of brassy guitar illuminate the question of working through the mess to “want to be human” with each other. Another raw and real song is Morphine, curls of roughness in the vocalist Barnaby’s voice, singing “I’m angry and reckless / And Icarus complex / Pass me another but don’t stay close”. It’s the perfect song to vent to when you’ve had a bad day.
Sea Girls then take the stage, and commence thumping drums and spacey synth, before frontman Henry Camamile strolls on nonchalantly to begin Damage Done. The crowd has congregated in front of the stage and there is a communion between musicians and music lovers, as I feel the drums thumping in my chest.
The next song is a recent one, no doubt forming part of their third album, ‘Midnight Butterflies’, which will drop in June. Weekends and Workdays feels like an anthem for the times, as we all find ways to deal with crises in the 2020s. It’s a song to beat a rhythm to at your work desk, to shout in your room – “Mate – weekends and workdays” and hum “You better keep your head up”. The band is bursting with energy and bass player Andrew Dawson, along with delivering a spot-on show all night, smiles a cheeky smile as he works the guitar.
I Want You to Know Me resonates with anyone who has a dream, whether it’s to be a dancer, astronaut or “singer in a pop band”. It’s wholesome to see the band up there, living that dream they had. Henry speaks the start of the chorus reverently, like a confession, but come the chorus it’s like he suddenly hurls his voice across the room, like this dream is finally coming true.
In Closer, sparkly guitar and feel-good vibes, with a catchy chorus, have me feeling this affinity for the rest of the room, jumping around together. Similarly catchy is Falling Apart, with its tattoo-like jabs of guitar and succinct chorus – “Damn look at my heart / Damn falling apart.” Henry’s vocal range is in full display with the line “I’m still holding on” which almost seems to take flight of its own accord. There is heartbreak in this song, probably written about some girl who broke his heart, and yet, here we are dancing and cheering along to it, making it beautiful.
Hometown is another track the crowd is vibing to on this night, a reminisce about the pain and pleasure of growing up, and features a cracking solo from lead guitarist Rory Young, spinning around in circles onstage and playing as if he played hard enough, he could bring our collective youth back himself.
We then proceed to have too much fun during Too Much Fun, the crowd getting right into Henry’s instructions to “jump”. Ready for More was similarly lively, as was Violet, where the crowd sang the pre-chorus like their life depended on it.
Sea Girls switched things up with Lonely, just Henry and Rory remaining onstage, leaning in towards each other as they created the intimate emotion this song evokes. Henry looks like a man at the end of the world standing still in the blue light of the stage lights, especially after all the jumping around he has been doing.
The mood comes back up with Sick, thrumming guitar, red and blue lighting and defiant drums reflecting the rebellious lyrics that muse on everything from your own actions to consumer culture – “Cause I’m sick of my laptop / I’m always buying / I’m sick of the news / Someone’s always dying”. One line was a clear favourite – “I’m sick of your friends (why)?” Henry sang, and straight back at him came the crowd’s answer – “They’re all fucking boring!”
Young Strangers once more shows off the band’s continuing energetic presence and the vocalist’s formidable belt, and fan favourite Do You Really Wanna Know? has everyone up jumping around again. Paracetamol Blues, beginning with a relatively stripped back verse, brought to mind Aussie sad rockers Spacey Jane, walking that line between bleak lyrics and a catchy hook.
All I Want To Hear You Say elicits another massive reaction from an enthused crowd, and Henry says: “We were gonna do an encore but we’re just gonna fucking stay on and play”, before launching into my personal favourite of their catalogue, Call Me Out. It’s fun, sexy, and of course, has full-pelt energy from the band and the crowd too to round out their Australian tour.
With thanks to Positive Feedback