Written by Rubie Barker
Walking through Bristol city centre from Clifton, sun blazing, sunglasses on, parks buzzing, it felt like the perfect atmosphere for an indie gig. Luckily, that is just where I was heading. Ahead of the official tour for their new album Homesick in November, Sea Girls were in Bristol to play two gigs at the legendary Fleece. Arriving 15 minutes before they were due on stage, the intimate venue was sold out and full to the brim, but did feel like the perfect venue for this string of smaller gigs. Admittedly the crowd was predominantly guys with mullets over 6ft and heading down earlier might have secured us a better view. Lesson learnt.
As the band took to the stage, the atmosphere grew and the crowd were certainly ready to hear music from the new album live for the first time. Kicking off with ‘Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son’ set the nostalgic tone for this second album perfectly. Henry Camamile, the lead singer, greeted the crowd, saying how much they all loved Bristol, perhaps a tad predictable but still sincere. Moving swiftly on, the band played ‘Friends’ and the crowd seemed to inch forward a tad more. The song was written by Oli Khan, the bands drummer, calling on us to “grab your friends wherever you can, go f*ck up your plans ‘Cause every second you’re not wasting is one you’ll never get back”, a feeling that being at the gig really encapsulated.
After ‘Paracetamol Blues’, an unconventional love song about belonging and reminiscing, Camamile switched to an acoustic guitar for ‘Cute Guys’ and ‘Lonely’. Before ‘Cute Guys’, they asked the crowd if they knew this one. The band were clearly trying to gauge the reception of their new songs in a live context, especially one that feels so different to what is expected of them, bordering more on emo rock, than indie rock. The long notes and slower tempo showed off the clarity and tone of Camamile’s voice that is missed when listening through your headphones.
From here they moved on to one of my favourites, ‘Hometown’, a nostalgic anthem ready for festival season, opening with the lines, “Lemonade, ripped jeans, nothing feels real when you’re 17” encapsulating the memories of summer days and new years that we all have of our own hometown. Rory Young, lead guitarist, threw himself into the end of the song with headbanging that showed off both his guitar skills and his hair. For me though, it was the bridge of this song that sticks out, building tension with each riff, documenting the momentous events of adolescence before ending the song with the line “it’s just beginning”. A hint of looking forward and onwards in an album that looks back.
Before they moved on, the band paused after a chant of “sea girls, sea girls” from the crowd. “How are you doing Bristol?” Camamile called out, “Do you guys need a break?” to which the crowd unsurprisingly answered “No!”. “Well, we do” was Camamile’s reply. Admittedly, he did look tired after playing a matinee performance in the afternoon. They have thrown themselves back into performing, after they ended their tour of Europe at the start of April. Perhaps at points they lacked a cohesive element as a band, with Camamile coming across as a solo performer with a band, but it still worked. Their sound remained strong, but their interaction on stage was less noticeable.
The band slowed down the pace somewhat with ‘Sleeping With You’ , a song about still being in love with someone now out of reach, before playing their latest single from this new album, ‘DNA’. “I think it’s time for an angry song now”, Camamile announced with a renewed sense of energy. ‘Sick’ followed, a song that NME criticised as a “drab list of confessions against plucky pop guitars”, but for me captures the sense of confusion and dismay at the state of the world. Listing the things he is sick of, reminded me slightly of Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’, and the anger of the lyrics was certainly reflected back by the crowd. Although ‘I’m sick of The Beatles’ might have been a stretch too far for me to sing back with conviction.
Following this run of songs from their new album, they played a song that most of the crowd will have been anticipating; their biggest hit with over 25 million streams on Spotify, ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’. It was the only single released in 2018 from their debut album Open Up Your Head, which they didn’t release until 2020. After a few mosh pits throughout the show, the crowd proved their dedication to the band, singing back every word to both this and ‘Damage Done’ after the mandatory false ending to the gig. For me, I would have preferred to hear one of their other big hits, ‘Call Me Out’ or ‘Do You Really Wanna Know?’, as the group behind me also exclaimed. While we waited for them to re-emerge, they were debating which of the two songs it would be, settling on ‘Call Me Out’, their debut single.
Walking through the crowd and standing on the bar to sing the last song was a unique way to end the night, but expected of Camamile, who seems to have a habit of joining the crowds in their gigs. It both made him seem like a star above us all, but also proving that he was just one of us. That their music is for the fans. They know the struggles of being young in 2022 and living through the past few years of turmoil.
With this only being the band’s second album, although they have been on the indie scene for a good few years, there are still places for the band to go. After a string of festivals lined up for the summer, their ‘Hometown’ tour begins in November 2022, with a performance in Cardiff SU scheduled for November 22.
November (UK Headline dates)
Thu 17th Nottingham, Rock City
Fri 18th Birmingham, O2 Academy 1
Sat 19th Glasgow, O2 Academy
Tue 22nd Cardiff, University Great Hall
Wed 23rd Southampton, O2 Guildhall
Fri 25th London, Alexandra Palace
Sat 26th Manchester, O2 Victoria Warehouse
For more info and tickets click here.