Live Review – BSWA Fundraiser @ The Sunflower Lounge

BSWA Fundraiser

The Sunflower Lounge

Review by Mae Simkin

The Sunset Beach Hut – © Jonny Nolan

A healthy amount of people went along to the Sunny for a great night organised by Indie Midlands in aid of BSWA.

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid [BSWA] supports women and children affected by domestic violence and abuse in the Birmingham and Solihull area. A really important charity working tirelessly, it was great to spend International Women’s Day at a gig supporting women who need it.

Kicking off the night was Coventry band Shanghai Hostage. The five-piece indie outfit produced music full of funky bass lines, strong drum grooves and great shredding. What I loved about this band was the electric stage presence and the humour they brought with it. They were fun.

Genre wise, they are a mismash and each bring different influences to the group which creates a really individual sound. Some songs were quite rocky whilst others had a more folk funk route – there was even some reggae vibes sneaking in there. ‘The King’ was probably my favourite track of the night, with serious rock energy. The audience participation in ‘Nomad’ was great to see and they finished off with quirky track, ‘Take Me To The Convent’ where the singer dressed as a nun. I thoroughly enjoyed their set.

Singer-songwriter Graywave was up next. I saw her perform in Digbeth at the beginning of January and remember really liking her material so it was great to see her again. Graywave did the unusual thing of playing her songs in chronological order of writing/release which meant she started with ‘Afternoon Escapism’; a beautiful track with somewhat eerie vocals.

I love how cool she is. How she presents herself and her persona. It is slightly out of the ordinary for a singer-songwriter to perform with an electric guitar and not an acoustic but she owned it. The crowd was entranced by her powerful vocals and delicate lyrics – one guy held up his lighter during the performance of ‘Fluid’. The set was short and sweet, perhaps down to the lack of full band which she said that she is used to, but I am looking forward to hearing her next release ‘Drift’.

Fawner travelled a distance to be part of this special event which I respect hugely. The four-piece alternative band from Bristol rocked the stage with their head banging tunes. The female singer had mad energy on stage and the chemistry radiating between the bandmates was incredible. They seemed to be having a great time as were the people in the crowd.

The gig-goers were getting into it aided by the drum beats that were made to be moshed to – the only downer was when the guitarist’s dodgy cable gave out. Once I was no longer distracted by the “live laugh love” tape on the bass guitar (which I hope is ironic because he didn’t look like a forty-year-old named Karen) I really got into the set. When three of them joined the crowd to have some fun during ‘Little Ghoul’, a track about not fitting in, the atmosphere peaked. Would definitely see them again.

Birmingham band Glass Ceilings atypically begun their set early so I missed the first song. This meant that I got to enjoy the fun when everyone was already pumped up and dancing. Their material is full of nice riffs, funky beats and the vocalist had a fantastic voice. As they played music from their EP, ‘Liar’, people started to do the ‘Macarena’. Hilarious.

What they were doing seemed to feel effortless but not in a bad way. Like performing is so natural to them. Playing their latest single, ‘I Don’t Mind’ caused a buzz but I for one loved ‘Fame’ which I hope they release at some point in the future. They are a band with great promise.

Closing proceedings for the night was the brilliant The Sunset Beach Hut. The quartet from Shrewsbury played just a few days after releasing their latest single, and it is a good one, ‘Twenty//25\\five’. They are a bunch of very talented musicians all round with the wonderful Aphra Smith managing things from the front, singing whilst dancing around the stage – apart from for “Upside Down” where she sported a guitar.

The mass of people were definitely feeling their alcohol consumption at this point and it was incredibly funny to watch. They were swaying, chanting and all round having a great time. When the band finished their set the people shouted for more and after much discussion they decided to play their debut single, ‘Comfort’.

The whole night had a wonderfully positive atmosphere and it was great to be able to do what I love but supporting an important cause. Well done everyone involved.