Writer Laura Mills / Photography Erin Connolly
As I step out of my Uber it’s instantly clear this is a sold out date because heaps of fans are already waiting eagerly outside the O2 Academy. I finally get through the queues, up a few steps, and looking up around the venue it is unsurprisingly rammed.
These fans have all come out early to bag themselves a front row spot for a serious name in indie right now: Sea Girls.
Before our main act, here to warm up the crowd is Lauran Hibberd and her band. We move through each track and it’s clear she’s comfortable in front of an audience of this size, jumping around the stage along with the band as they play a mix of punk-pop hits.
Hibberd radiates energy, doing her utmost to warm up this Friday night crowd. As a performer she’s likeable and you want to champion her on, but after a few songs the vocals appear to slightly falter, losing that touch of confidence that was there at the start of the set.
However, she still shows charisma within her stage presence, leaping around, covering every bit of stage. She exits, and myself, along with many other fans head to the bar for a refreshment before the headliners.
Bev in hand, I make my way further through the crowd. It’s packed, it’s sweaty, and there’s this feeling across the room that tonight is going to be messy; I haven’t been to a gig like this for a while and there’s electricity in the air.
Shout out to the DJ, we’ve just had ‘Seventeen Going Under’ by Sam Fender which got everyone singing along, and now he’s put on ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ by Wolf Alice. I’ve just graduated, I’m next to my best mate singing arm in arm, swaying in the crowd together singing Wolf Alice and waiting for Sea Girls to play.
If it’s up to their typical standard, I think I’m about to be in heaven.
The lights dim, all eyes are on the stage and each member of Sea Girls walks on met by a massive roar from the crowd. Guitar in hand, subtly strumming the strings, frontman Henry moves closer to the mic and starts to sing: “I was full, shining / And when you took it, I felt thin”.
Everyone in the crowd joins him and the set kicks off with ‘Damage Done’.
The electricity in the air zaps between us and Sea Girls with the band thrashing at their instruments.
Next up, it’s ‘Lucky’. It appears everyone in the room is a die hard Sea Girls fan because they know every line. As the song’s tension builds through a series of fast-paced guitar riffs, this is mirrored with the crowd’s reaction who are eagerly waiting for Henry to sing a certain line.
Finally, he sings: “Oh, If that was me in another life / Well, I wouldn’t be on this stage tonight.” with the thrashing of a guitar and the crowd bouncing up and down belting out: “But I’m on fire tonight”.
A few songs in we get to hear the band’s latest release, ‘Falling Apart’. It’s the first time for many hearing it live I can assume, and Sea Girls don’t disappoint.
Throughout this track the marching beat of the drums guides us through, the guitar riffs vary, some sound funky, others sound sharp. The cherry on top is Henry’s soulful, heartfelt vocals, and as he sings every word I can feel the authentic emotion behind the lyrics.
Henry’s voice is arguably even better live than recorded, he hits every note, high or low with his own signature sound.
Moving further down the setlist, we reach one of the band’s first releases in the form of ‘Too Much Fun’. This song is special, visually you can see how united this band is through their cheeky glances at each other. As I’m watching I wonder whether they are also reflecting on how far they’ve come since this release.
Sea Girls are giving us a whole load of fan favourites including ‘Adored’, ‘Violet’, and ‘Do You Really Wanna Know?’ Mid-set we receive a treat in the form of an acoustic cover of ‘Lonely’ on the keyboard.
For a moment I look around at this crowd, people have their arms in the air waving with lights on their phone, everyone is singing and time feels like it’s stopped for a minute. We’re all caught up in this moment. “This next one is called ‘Friends’,” says Henry.
I look instantly at my mate and put my arm around her, as we’re swaying and singing the band use their instruments to build us up to the chorus. It hits, and pairs of friends including myself grab each other and scream the following lyrics in each other’s faces.
“So grab your friends whenever you can / Go fuck up your plans / ‘Cos every second you’re not wasting is one you’ll never get back.”
At this moment the room is pure escapism – nothing else matters. Sea Girls exit the stage and the crowd start to beg for more. Finally, they appear giving us what we want.
The encore starts with ‘Daisy Daisy’, an early Sea Girls tune, and we finish on ‘Call Me Out’.
We all knew it would come eventually, but the arrival of ‘Call Me Out’ sends the crowd wild for a last time. Crashing and smashing into each other, throwing pints and singing til our throats can’t take it any more.
For more gigs and events at O2 Academy visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham