I’ve walked past The Haunt countless times before - even staying in a YHA room directly looking on to it - without really registering the small, dark venue.
After visiting on Friday to see Sea Girls perform, I’ve made a mental note to give one of their infamous dance nights a go. Right next to the seafront, it’s a neat little site, a glossy black front in a sea of egg white and beige buildings - a cinema converted into a cavernous dive bar.
For an indie-rock gig, The Haunt is perfect - dark, compact. A great venue for a band like London-based quartet Sea Girls, who get up close and personal with the audience: lead singer and guitarist Henry Camamile crouches, face to face with fans on the front row, before stepping down into the crowd to dance with the crowd. Microphone in hand, still performing, arm round the shoulders of audience members who are singing the lyrics back at him, jumping in time.
I’d spoken to Henry on the phone a couple of weeks before seeing Sea Girls perform in Brighton. He was getting ready to jump on the minibus to head to the next location on their UK tour. “It’s been awesome,” he tells me. “We’ve had a great reaction to the new singles. Manchester has been my favourite stop so far - everyone was super loud, and the vibe was great. It was amazing to see everyone dancing, and hear them singing our songs back to us. It was great - the show really ran away with us.”
It’s been a busy year for Sea Girls, and I ask Henry what the highlight has been so far. “Playing Reading and Leeds - it’s really a childhood dream for anyone who wants to play live music,” he tells me. Getting our EP out - having a physical copy of the music. I’m not a fantatic or a purist when it comes to vinyl - mostly I listen to music on my phone - but I’ve been building my vinyl collection. I have some Foals, and some of my parents’ stuff from the 1970s and 80s. It’s cool how it’s coming back around - it forces you to listen to whole side of an album. You don’t skip to ‘Mr Brightside’ - you get to listen to ‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’ as well.”
I ask what Henry’s been listening to: “Frank Carter’s ‘I Hate You’ - it’s such a great song. I love the lyrics. I’ve also been listening to The 1975, Young Fathers, and Gangs of Youth.” There’s definitely something of The 1975 about Sea Girls’ ability to knock out a danceable bop, but the band’s sound is more distinctly indie-rock than anything else: think somewhere between Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Wombats.
Sea Girls’ gig at The Haunt marks a return to Brighton for the band, who came here to shoot their music video for single Too Much Fun. “It was so much fun working on the music video, but it was so cold!” Henry says. “We also played The Great Escape at the Arch. It was great.”
At their gig on October 19, Sea Girls give a performance which is high energy straight off the bat - as soon as they hit the stage, all four members feel completely present, moving non-stop in time to the music.
This level of energy is something Henry promised as I asked him what an audience can expect from a gig with Sea Girls: “We really let the music run away with us,” he tells me. “We get sweaty, we keep it up there. We play every show like it’s our very last rock show. You can expect noise and energy - we move around a lot. I love The xx, but it’s not The xx - it’s the opposite of a The xx gig!”
So where does the name ‘Sea Girls’ come from? “It’s taken from Water’s Edge, a Nick Cave - although it’s actually the wrong lyric!” Henry explains. “The song, which has a line about ‘these city girls’, we heard as ‘sea girls’, which we liked more - it’s a very mystical sounding phrase, otherworldly. Music, for us, is our escape, so we wanted a name that sounded unearthly.”
Support band The Pale White, are another one to keep an ear out for - they’ve got some pretty decent riffs. Track Medicine is particularly good - hurry up and release it already, guys! - and I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop as a band.
An excellent show with two great performances. If you haven’t checked Sea Girls or The Pale White out yet - get on it.