GIRLI is all about the message. A PSA blares loudly over the speakers – abuse or assault will not be tolerated – this is a safe space.
The announcement sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Milly Toomey, a.k.a GIRLI, a larger than life North-West London twenty-something with neon pink hair, proudly wears the feminist badge. Her debut studio album, Odd One Out, released just a few weeks ago, celebrates diversity, and the energy and passion that she brings to the stage when she performs is absolutely undeniable.
Opening with “Play It Cool”, a retro feeling song with 80s synth and backing vocals, the audience were immediately awoken from their between-artist mood slump. The track describes insecurity, and relays the story of a voice who realises she is better than and better off without the person that is making her doubt her own self-confidence. This is continued in “Not That Girl”, the lyrics “take off my clothes and it’s me underneath them // this is full time not just me on the weekend” demonstrating GIRLI‘s commitment to authenticity, no matter how difficult it may make things in everyday life.
“Young”, like every GIRLI track, has an indisputable catchy-ness to it. Even if you dislike her branding, or her even (sometimes) obnoxious feeling Brit-pop rap style, you have to credit that. The lyrics “cos they never told us // how much it hurts to be young” clearly resonate with members of the audience, the strained vocals conveying the hormonal teenage angst that the track exudes.
But it’s closing track, “Hot Mess”, that perfectly conveys the confidence which GIRLI now has in herself and her abilities. The track is a fuck you to anyone who has ever told her she can’t do it, any middle-aged white man that has looked down at her for her hair or her clothes, any stranger that has ever judged her without knowing her . Look where she is now.
As a public figure, GIRLI is an extremely positive role model for young adults. Writing tracks which are both relatable and infectious, she spreads her message to the subconscious minds of listeners everywhere. But most importantly, GIRLI promotes self-love and self-care, no matter your gender, no matter your sexuality, no matter who you are or where you are, and in the ever-critical social media society in which we live today, that is incredibly important.
Words by Kate Eldridge