Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Swim Deep – Koko, London 17/02/14

19 February 2014, 17:00 | Written by Dannii Leivers

By the time Swim Deep walk onstage tonight, some of this young and excitable crowd have been waiting for them for over four hours. Such levels of devotion come as bit of a shock – even though the band pulled huge crowds at last year’s festivals, they’re still very much in their fledgling stages. Yet anticipation is such that earlier in the evening, Sheffield boy/girl duo Slow Club struggled to hold the attention of the room with their admittedly very pretty harmonising. When Swim Deep finally do appear, making their entrance to the ear-bleedingly loud theme to Jurassic Park, the atmosphere is positively feverish.

And the surprises continue. Floppy-haired Higgy, Zach, Cavan, James and Frontman Austin Williams mightn’t seem like the sort of guys who would inspire a full-scale moshing riot – surely their gleaming, sunny-sweet jangle-pop is much too blissful for that. Yet under the glittering lights of KOKO’s massive disco-ball that’s exactly what happens. At the sound of “Franciso”’s first breezy chimes, the room erupts into a mass of bouncing bodies and crowd surfing which doesn’t let up for the first five tracks. The irrepressible, golden tones of “Honey” quickly follow, one of the best songs to emerge from the whole B-Town scene; glorious, dreamy and drenched in vivid colour.

Swim Deep’s debut Where the Heaven Are We had some great singles on it. It borrowed extensively (and successfully) from the sounds of The Smiths, Stone Roses, The Cure and Primal Scream, derivative down to its very last jangle, but never toppling over into mere pastiche. However, unremarkable guitar work (Swim Deep are more about an overall aura than pushing musicianship boundaries) and the lazy buzz of the album ensured it never really asserted itself. Live though, the band are a different proposition. “Make My Sunshine” and “Soul Tripping”, the wispiest songs on their debut don’t translate into something more substantial but elsewhere, the band create drama. Back-lit by striking primary colours, “The Sea” is stripped of some of its superfluous polish and sounds less early Primal Scream, more warm, raw and urgent. “Red Lips I Know” starts off every bit as shimmery and charming as it’s recorded counterpart but escalates into a ramshackle, swaggering jam, Austin omitting Morrissey-esque “Barbarism Begins at Home” shrieks.

Williams in particular has been upfront about his plans for Swim Deep. His ostentatious outbursts of his band ‘owning summer’, being a ‘huge impact on pop music’ and simply being ‘the best band in the world’ have a sort of deluded charm but you can totally see why this young crowd have bought into them. Tonight’s finale “King City” is awash with teenage dreams, unrequited crushes (“Fuck your romance, I wish Jenny Lee Lindberg was my girlfriend”) and wide-eyed hope. Swim Deep personify that period in every teenager’s life where anything seems possible. As Austin climbs the speakers during its final throes and sprays the crowd with champagne it sums-up his band’s existence: a celebration of youth and opportunity. Perhaps he’s not so deluded after all.

Photo by Burak Cingi. See the full gallery here.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next