Smile Politely

Beach Bunny brought the energy to Foellinger

Last Thursday, October 7th, students at the University of Illinois — as well as any locals who wanted to attend — were treated to a performance at Foellinger Auditorium from Chicago-based indie rock and punk band Beach Bunny. Known for their catchy, fast-paced, bedroom-punk songs such as “Prom Queen” and “Painkiller,” the group no doubt brought energy and got the crowd moving. 

When we arrived at the show, the lobby of Foellinger was packed. I had heard the event was close to being sold out. Thankfully, masks were required inside the auditorium, and we found our seats, which once the show actually started, didn’t matter. Everyone got up from their seats and moved to the front of the auditorium to crowd together and dance. We stayed at our seats which were nice and spaced out from everyone else. The balconies above seemed to be pretty much filled up.

Opening the show was LLO LLO, the Chicago/Urbana-based dream-grunge outfit — you can learn more about them through our interview with the band, if you so fancy. The group was dressed to impress, taking the stage in white turtlenecks and grey blazers before ripping through their setlist.

Photo by Sean Wilkinson.

I think this group is truly one of the best around right now. They bring such a fun energy to the stage, not to mention they are all extremely talented on their respective instruments — Dom was absolutely smashing the drums. I was truly in awe. The songs are catchy and sweet, and at times raw and powerful. I saw in front of me someone mouth something along the lines of “these guys are great” to the person they were with, and then proceeded to find LLO LLO’s Instagram and follow them. If that isn’t a great testimonial then I don’t know what is.

I also have to give a shout out to the annoying group that was behind us who said something similar, discussing how good LLO LLO is, while simultaneously talking incredibly loud through their whole set, as well as part of Beach Bunny too. That’s a bit of an oxymoron, no? Glad you all are having fun, but maybe think about how your actions affect others around you?

Anyway, LLO LLO was great and the crowd was incredibly receptive, at one point pulling out their cell phones and turning the flashlights on to mimic lighters and waving them back and forth in the air. They played for about 40 minutes before finishing. You’ll be able to catch them this Saturday, October 16th opening up for The Districts and girlpuppy.

Photo by Sean Wilkinson.

After a short change over, Beach Bunny took the stage. I am not too familiar with Beach Bunny’s music, but I know their hits I mentioned at the start of the article. The group started to garner attention back in 2019 with help from TikTok, as their songs circulated the app and gained popularity. The group is made up of Lili Trifilio (vocals), Anthony Vaccaro (bass), Matt Henkels (guitar), and Jon Alvarado (drums). 

Despite the band being labeled as “sad-girl” music, their set was anything but sad. They started out with their song “Prom Queen,” which to me was a bold choice, to open with arguably their most popular song. Usually bands save their biggest song for the end of the show. However, it definitely got the crowd hyped up, as people were dancing and jumping around. Despite the masks, you could certainly hear the crowd singing along. 

Beach Bunny led the crowd through numerous hits to the cheers of the crowd, as well as debuting some new songs, such as “Oxygen.” Towards the middle of the set, someone in the crowd held up a sign saying that it was their (or their friend’s) birthday. Trifilio tried reading the name as well as trying to get the crowd to tell her the name of the birthday person, but over the shouts of the crowd, no one could seem to figure it out. Nonetheless, she led the crowd through a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” with everyone comically mumbling or singing a random name during the song. 

This kind of crowd interaction was present through their whole set, with Lili encouraging dancing, moshing, and clapping. At one point, she said she wanted to try a “group activity.” She had the crowd crouch down as best they could — in between the seats of the auditorium — and then jump up when the beat dropped in the song. Sure enough, the crowd was able to pull it off, and went wild when the song got going. 

I think the beauty of this band lies in how accessible the sound is while packing a devastating punch with the lyrics. The music itself is punk and pop and danceable, and has elements that I think anyone could enjoy, but when you hear lyrics such as “I’ve been starving myself, carving skin until my bones are showing,” you realize that there is more to these uptempo songs than meets the ears. 

The band finished their set strong to thunderous applause from the crowd who were cheering for an encore. Despite not playing any additional songs, the band thanked the crowd for their support, and left the stage. A big shout out to Star Course for putting on the event, and always bringing some great acts to campus. This was an incredibly fun show, and I look forward to seeing who Star Course will bring next. 

Top photo by Sean Wilkinson.

Music Editor

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