With an electric performance at Manchester O2 Ritz, indie rock group Beach Bunny proved that they are a band to watch.
I thought I’d mix it up a little and review a concert instead of a book this week. I was lucky enough to see TikTok Sensation Beach Bunny live last week and it was the best gig I’ve ever been to. Read on to find out why…
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The crowd was full of anticipation during the support act: the softly spoken Siv Jakobsen who’d come all the way from Norway for the gig. Whilst a tight band with gorgeous harmonies, Jakobsen was pretty different to the pop-punk chaos of Beach Bunny and not quite what I was expecting. However, the contrast may have been a strategic move from the band as the crowd was filled with energy when Beach Bunny finally took to the stage.
Opening with their most streamed song ‘Prom Queen’, Beach Bunny immediately captured a crowd who shouted every word. Unsurprising, as this was the song that shot the Californian-based rock group to fame when it went viral in 2018. Bands who found fame on TikTok sometimes lack the stage presence or the back catalogue to engage crowds – I haven’t heard amazing things about Wet Leg or Inhaler’s live performances. However, despite opening with their biggest song, the band proved that they could continue the energy and power packed into ‘Prom Queen’ for an entire set.
Through the next few songs, the band showcased their capacity for combining catchy melodies with meaningful lyrics. The real queen of the band is the lead singer, Lili Trifillio, who formed the band in 2015 and writes most of the songs. She effortlessly merges bedroom pop with indie-rock (I’ve heard Beach Bunny described as pop-punk but they’re a bit classier than that). Come for the music, but stay for the lyrics…
Appealing to a crowd of mostly early 20s at the O2 Ritz, Trifillio captured the joy and insecurity of teen love in songs like ‘Boys’ and ‘April’. Playing whilst wearing a ‘Prom Queen’ sash made by a fan, she regularly checked in with the audience, sharing insight and jokes. ‘You’ve turned my day around’ she once shouted to the crowd. At another point, she conducted us in ‘Happy Birthday’, which is a great example of how friendly and supportive the crowd was. It was clear everyone was having the time of their lives.
Undeniably, this feeling of closeness was emphasized by the iconic venue. A Manchester staple, The O2 Ritz has hosted some of the best bands of the last century, from The Smiths’s first ever gig to New Order and the Stone Roses. Beach Bunny brought some California sunshine to the venue and the crowd was one of the most energetic I’ve ever seen at an indie gig. At Trifillio’s command, the crowd would transform into a pulsing mosh pit across the Ritz’s iconic wooden floor. Even more unexpected was a ‘Wall of Death’ mosh near the end of the set – how many of them have you seen at a bedroom pop gig?
Arguably, the drive and edge behind songs like ‘Oxygen’ are lost in the Spotify recordings – I wasn’t expecting the crowd to be as lively they were. However, the sharper sound better suits the coming-of-age pain and power Trifillio evokes.
The set ended with Beach Bunny’s feminist anthems ‘Blame Game’ and ‘Good Girls Don’t Get Used’. Trifillio’s ability to transform a crowd on the verge of tears, phone lights in hand, into a screaming circle pit highlights the band’s power. The night finished triumphantly with an encore to the fan favorite ‘Painkiller’, leaving the crowd buzzing and exhausted.
Whatever the song may say, it’s clear that Beach Bunny are worthy of the title ‘Prom Queen’.
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What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to? Are you a fan of Beach Bunny’s music? What do you think about bands who’ve found fame on social media? Let me know in the comments!