It’s a sea of dyed hair, platform boots and incredible outfits for GIRLI’s headline show in Sheffield. The fans are here queuing in plenty of time for the intimate, but energetic gig, ready to see her on the damsel in distress tour, her first tour since COVID-19.

The stage backdrop is very sex-pistols reminisce with catchy phrases like ‘do what I like and what I hate’. The floor is suitably sticky in true o2 club venue tradition, and the security are being friendly and welcoming of the cries of ‘I am so gay right now’ coming from the waiting fans.

The night is started off perfectly with Sizzy Rocket taking to the stage to perform a high energy set, combining synth vibes with furious guitar riffs and soft serenading vocals with angry, empowering chants. Every word is screamed back at her by the audience. Smaller than expected but with more than enough energy to compensate. It is really refreshing to see such support for the support act! She gets the crowd warmed up, chatting and interacting with them between songs.

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‘Do you guys have Wendys?’ She asks the crowd, who reply loudly ‘no’. She continues ‘Okay, but you know what it’s like to cry in a fast-food parking lot right? When you’re done with the world?’ ‘Yes’ is echoed throughout the room in various forms as the room comes together in a moment of emotion and honesty. Sizzy goes on to perform her brand new song ‘Crying in a Wendy’s parking lot’ which is a huge hit with the crowd. The energy is so electric you wouldn’t know there were only 3 rows of fans, it feels much bigger. Sizzy brings her set to a close and explains she is getting off stage straight onto a train to the airport, as she flies back to LA later that night. She has done her job of warming the crowd up – exceptionally.

July Jones is next up, and steps on stage to welcome cheers and cries of ‘you’re so hot.’ Which she laughs about and replies ‘thank you!” She explains to the crowd how the whole tour is staffed by female or non-binary people and how safe and empowering it feels. She continues this with ‘I hate men’ before apologising to the male fans, though few and far between, saying she likes them, obviously. She then announces

‘I am here to play some gay songs.’

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And starts her softer, yet still high energy set. Her song ‘Butterflies’ is extremely well received by the crowd, who sing every word back to her. She wrote this song with the headliner, GIRLI so it’s clear the two are a good match for a show together. She then opens up to the crowd about her battles with anxiety and the feeling of not being good enough. This is followed by her new single, a beautiful ballad which she explains she wrote after she ‘looked in the mirror and realised [she] was a bad bitch’.

Her final song comes in the form of ‘Aladdin’ a diss track she wrote about a girl she hated. She explains how this song blew up on TikTok and the girl who it was about realised and blocked her. Before she plays her final song, she creates a Tik Tok herself with the crowd and asks them to meet her after her set at the merch stand, to have their boobs signed. And with that, she plays her last song, the crowd cheers and she exits in a pink haze.

Now it’s time for the headliner. Co-performer FABER enters first, back to the audience she sways to the opening of ‘Day, Month, Second’. GIRLI enters, neon pink mullet at the ready, she too stands with her back to the audience and they sway in sync. As the vocals kick in, so does the performance. The crowd is going wild as GIRLI and FABER work their way through songs from GIRLI’s debut album. After a few songs, GIRLI takes a break and asks fans what year they started listening to her music, starting in 2021 she works her way back through the years to 2016, asking fans to cheer on the year they discovered her. 2018 proves the most popular year, but one fan cheers on 2016, proving their dedication to the singer.

She performs her new single ‘Dysmorphia’ which seems to resonate well with the audience, there isn’t one person in the crowd not moving and singing, it’s clear this is a truly accepting community.

My personal favourite song of the evening is her performance of ‘Ruthless’ which she explains she wrote during lockdown after being dropped from her record label. GIRLI tells how she felt like giving up, and how she felt ‘irrelevant’ saying how she considered giving up music and becoming a dog trainer. Ruthless is written as a journal, a reminiscence of the past and simpler times with relatable lyrics like ‘I’m a kid in a grownup suit,’ which is sung in unison by the crowd. The pauses before the chorus give chance for fans to speak their mind, as one fan exclaims ‘I’m gay and horny!’ GIRLI laughs and says…

‘Well, that sums up a GIRLI show!’

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More images at elophotos.co.uk

The show is over all too soon, GIRLI leaves, making a heart shape with her hands to the crowd. Within seconds, a chant of ‘one more song’ begins. And GIRLI doesn’t disappoint. She comes back out on stage and shouts ‘Sheffield! You’ve proved you’re ready to party, but are you ready to get messy?’ Wild cries from the crowd ensue as GIRLI performs ‘hot mess’.

It is obvious that the fans give GIRLI as much as she gives them, her smiles are as genuine as theirs and she flashes one last grin at the crowd as she leaves the stage. It is so refreshing to see a real sense of love and acceptance in the room, and so clear that GIRLI gigs are a truly safe space, something the world really needs at the moment.

Words and images – Evey Leigh-Oldale

Follow Evey on Instagram

Website and more images of the show at elophotos.co.uk

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