At a venue much more intimate than previous years, Swim Deep combined high energy synth and riffs with a sense of dreamy stupor in a way that only this Birmingham band can.
The show was opened by Phoebe Green and her band, blessing those who had made it down early enough with her dulcet tones over catchy and enticing synth fuelled tunes. A joyful and soulful mix of heavy beats and soft, ethereal vocals, Phoebe Green serenaded the crowd with a set that was a perfect mix of the upbeat and the soft and slow.
A stand out of the set was her latest release Easy Peeler, with dialled down verses drawing you in to a much heavier chorus, the tune is emblematic of its name, a mix of sweet and sour, and is an absolute testament to her talent as an emerging artist. Effortlessly cool in the most laid back way, Phoebe Green set the stage for a transcendent night of music.
As stage time for the headline act approached, the venue filled with energy and people, with a largely young crowd humming with excitement.
Opening with the old yet gold Francisco, Swim Deep had the audience in their palm from the outset, having the audience forget the gloom outside with dreamy synth and hopeful lyricism. They drew us further into early 2010’s nostalgia, easing into hit song Honey. The energy on stage was reflected in the crowd, the largely teenage audience bouncing throughout the entire set, something especially evident as tempo increased with To My Brother.
While eras of their music remain evident as the set progresses, a Swim Deep gig maintains the feel of a lucid dream throughout, with warbling synth and softly distressed lyricism remaining a theme that does a lot to gather in the audience and transport them to another plain.
Never shying away from experimenting, their live show is a different experience each time, with live versions differing from the record in the most refreshing way, with songs weaving into each other displaying that this is a band that is meant to be seen in action.
Effortlessly switching from the traditional acoustic indie The Sea, to what they themselves described as an "eight minute rave/love song" by the way of Fueiho Boogie, involving frontman Austin Williams running in place for the entirety, completely embodying the song’s energy and making the track more of a live spectacle.
It was in the encore that the nostalgia of early 2010’s Swim Deep really took hold, and by the reaction of the crowd, this is what they had been waiting for. Easing into the glittery instrumental introduction to She Changes the Weather, everyone in the room was on tenterhooks. Rather than make the finale of this show a more soulful number, they injected one final burst of energy into the room, with their debut hit King City.
Overcoming technical issues with ease and a sense of showmanship that is not often mirrored, Swim Deep were in complete control of the crowd throughout this gig, seamlessly shifting from the emotional to the upbeat throughout.
While new album Emerald Classics is more of a departure from the dreamy nature of their earlier hits, the B-town legends displayed that they had far from lost it, remaining a band worth seeing live as much as they were in 2013.
Photography by Izzy Williams