I bought my ticket for Beach Bunny at YES! Basement back in Feb 2020. Despite it’s small capacity, when my father-in-law expressed interest in going several weeks later, tickets were still available.
When it inevitably got postponed due to covid it was upgraded to the 550 capacity Gorilla, and postponed yet again it finally took place at the 1,500 capacity O2 Ritz – and sold out. Their London show at the 2,300 capacity Kentish Town Forum sold out too.
Bands who took off during the pandemic missed out on honing their stage skills on increasing sized stages, so for example when I saw Wet Leg at a small venue in Leeds in 2021 just as they were blowing up, they were absolutely electric, but seeing them on a bigger stage at Glastonbury, they looked a little lost and out of their depth. I heard similar reports from their support slots with Inhaler.
Beach Bunny had no such problem – lead singer Lili Trifilio comes across as confident and assured.
The band has a cross-generational appeal. For example, my 17 year old daughter mentioned she liked them, and it’s unusual for our music tastes to align, for example my favourite band is Skating Polly but she just says “who?”.
This was reflected in the audience, being an 8+ there were a few young children, and quite a few of us oldies who probably bought tickets for YES! Basement or Gorilla expecting an audience mainly made up of people our age, looking a bit bemused, but of course because the band blew up on TikTok, I’d say about 3/4 of the audience was teenagers, predominantly female, who clearly see Lili as a bit of a role model, and she cares about them too, like for example seeing one fan overwhelmed she stopped before the end of “Sports” to make sure they were ok.
For me, they kind of remind me of a female-fronted Wedding Present, particularly on the likes of 6 Weeks – a jangly tune about love and loss, upbeat tunes with dark lyrics cast in the mold of The Smiths, but thankfully Moz free. A bit more pop that I usually listen to, but tunes so irresistible it’s hard to not like them.
If I were to be mega-picky, I’d say that in some ways it felt like Lili the star with session musicians rather than a band – there seemed very little chemistry between band members, and they didn’t seem to be particularly happy to be there.
Matt Henkels the guitarist wasn’t there, and according to Wikipedia he has left the band, so perhaps there are tensions going on in the band and of course as it’s their first tour outside the US, and they have such a hectic schedule, they could just be feeling a little burned out.
Not that it matters in the slightest because her fans were there for Lili and she gave them what they wanted by the bucket load. I just kind of imagined them to be quite a close knit band and was surprised by how distant they seemed.
The set kicked off at 8pm sharp with Dream Boy. To my ears it sounded a bit wonky, which surprised me, as youtube live clips of the band tend to sound really good.
However, after launching into Oxygen, Lili called the stage manager as there were technical problems with her wedge. The problem was quickly fixed, the song restarted, and they sounded impeccable from then on.
The remainder of the 19 song setlist was Promises, Prom Queen (surprisingly early since, in streaming stats at least, with 25 million views on YouTube and a wopping 296 million listens on Spotify for example – it’s their biggest song, I really expected them to finish with it), 6 Weeks (one of their early songs and still my personal favourite, so this reviewer was indeed very happy to hear it), Good Girls (Don’t Get Used), Weeds, Love Sick, Gone, Eventually.
At this point Lili asked if anyone had a birthday, and everyone sung happy birthday to them, quite touching.
The show continued with April. Lili asked the audience to turn their phone lights on, much as I used to loathe and detest the old lighters in the air thing, it did look amazing and went really well with the song.
The audience started a chant of “Fuck the t*ries, da-da-deh-dah” which clearly confused Lili “what are they singing?” bassist Anthony Caccaro seemed to tell her and she punched the air a few times but moved on quickly, presumably not wanting to get too involved in UK politics!
The set continued, phone lights off, with Rearview, Sports, Blame Game, Cuffing Season, Nice Guys, Colorblind, Cloud 9, and then after a brief absence from the stage, Painkiller for the encore.
With 2 albums and an EP released since the tour was originally supposed to take place, I did worry that perhaps I’d never get to hear some of the earlier songs, but really couldn’t complain about that set list at all.
The show finished at around 9.20pm having played for around an hour and 20 mins.
I’m actually a big fan of early curfews – if like me you’re travelling by train from Liverpool to Manchester, it’s good to get back before the buses stop running. If you live locally, you can go for a beer after the show without needing to find a late night club when you just want a quick pint to bask in that post-gig glow before you go home.
And of course for some of the audience it was probably past their bedtime!
Judging by the size of the queue at the merch stall, the screaming and the jumping around, you could tell that the audience absolutely loved the show and the bands ascendancy will continue.
At the end of the day though, a review is really superfluous – these pictures tell you all you need to know about the show. You don’t get that level of excitement from going to a movie or a pizza or a quiet night in with Netflix – this is what gigs are really all about, and the next generation have a bright future of them watching bands that they love.
I was left with slight pangs being robbed by the pandemic of seeing the band at an intimate venue, getting my vinyl signed by the band and so on, but hey, it was a great show and really hard to fault, bar the aforementioned niggles that I doubt anyone else would even notice.
I’m not sure personally if I’ll attend the next Beach Bunny tour when they return to the UK, musically I’d be there in a heartbeat, but I suspect there will be even less people my age there without the bait and switch of YES! Basement/ Gorillia / O2 Ritz 😉 and I don’t want to feel that I’ve gatecrashed a youthclub like I did when I took my daughter to Leeds to see Billy Eilish.
Beach Bunny’s next Manchester show will probably be in an even bigger venue, so perhaps I’ll give it a miss, but I’ll see!
Catching the band this time around was a real privilege. One of the first things I thought of when the first lockdown was announced was, whether the Beach Bunny gig at Gullivers would take place in June.
Finally seeing the band feels like finally drawing a line under the pandemic and things can move on.
The last band I really liked who went from playing the beer tent when I saw them to having a massive #1 was Clean Bandit. I loved their early music but really went off them with their successful stuff. I guess you could say I have alternative tastes.
Beach Bunny are unusual in that whilst I do prefer their first album Honeymoon over the recent Emotional Creature, and my favourite song is off the very first e.p. I still think they are fantastic, and I look fwd to seeing their continued rise.
They deserve every success.