SWIM DEEP THE OLD BLUE LAST, LONDON 30TH AUGUST 2012
SET LIST - FRANCISCO, PINK, GOLD, BEACH JUSTICE, HONEY, SEA, VEGAS, KING CITY
On first impressions, there was a lot to be sceptical about. Africa print guitar straps, backwards baseball caps and a bunch of petrol station carnations adorning lead singer Austin’s microphone suggested more Dalston Morrissey and far less the new feel-good revelation hailing from the heart of the West Midlands. Perhaps predictably, looks were deceiving. Swim Deep, recently signed to Sony’s sister label RCA, went on to shower the crowd with sunshine beats and flowers, affirming their position at the top of tonight’s bill.
Initially the top floor of the Old Blue Last appeared to be filtering out after previous act Wolf Alice finished their set, but Swim Deep’s opening song was played to a packed out audience, filled with hip young things and industry types ready to believe the hype. And indeed they might. Whilst the band appears mellower on record, their live performance tonight was high energy and far more fun. The band stormed through their set sounding adamantly lo-fi and insistently jubilant. Songs like Francisco hinted at No Age, whilst others like Gold, with its florid guitars and loved up lyrics suggested more Pictures Of You era The Cure. Heard live they’re louder, hinting at anthems without deliberacy; the weighty drums further emphasised by a recorded backing track which works to make their overall sound hazy and more smothering.
The show closed with Swim Deep’s new single King City, which managed to steer away from MGMT comparisons with a live sound that was more distressed whilst still leaving the crowd, along with the band themselves, on a definite high. And they’ve got reason to be cheerful. Like fellow Birmingham outfit Peace who were recently signed to Columbia, label backing seems to have given the band a drive and confidence on stage. And as the band’s singer offers the audience drinks, claiming they’ll be put on RCA’s tab, it seems the label, just like everyone else, should be keeping a close watch on Swim Deep.
Words by Alys Beider