Photo by Sarah Doone
There’s been a huge amount of hype surrounding the West Midlands over the past year. Birmingham has become ‘B-town’ and subsequently the ‘new east London’. Despite a rich musical heritage, the city often gets knocked off the map, leaving little room for a contender between the respective beasts of Manchester and London. But now, with Swim Deep, Peace and JAWS, it’s slowly beginning to receive the glory it deserves.
From tonight’s show, it’s clear to see the Birmingham circuit isn’t the only one Swim Deep are taking by storm, having managed to sell out Shoreditch’s XOYO, bringing their grunge-pop and positive vibes-laden sound to the capital for an intimate showcase. Boasting a crowd concocted of hipster sovereignty, members of Peace and Spector’s Fred Macpherson in attendance alongside a herd of fans, they’ve filled the venue to capacity.
Support comes from Dalston’s Paradise, who take to the stage with a flurry of swirling hair of the kind more often seen on heavy metal bands juxtaposed with their esoteric dream-pop stylings, including songs such as ‘Luella’, ‘Endless Wave’ and ‘Blue Flower’ within their short set.
“I don’t take requests”, beams frontman Austin Williams, when Swim Deep’s time to take over arises, “but if I did…”, he continues, before warbling in to the first four bars of Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’. It’s just one of the moments which pinpoint the band’s playful side, additionally bidding for the crowd to sing along to ‘Happy Birthday’ in celebration of bassist Cavan McCarthy’s big day. Then comes uplifting new single ‘The Sea’ with its crystal-clear soundscape, after having unleashed predecessor ‘Honey’ pretty early on in the set – long before additions such as their cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Down By The Seaside’ and arguably the most exciting fixture in their scarce back catalogue. ‘King City’ guides the mostly static crowd in to a buoyant frenzy followed by a display of frenetic stage dives from almost all band members to bring a triumphant show to an enigmatic close. Tonight proves Swim Deep are a true reckoning force, the fans on side, as they continue to dominate the country’s fastest-growing local scene.