indieberlin review – Swim Deep at Magnet Club

[Written by Olivia Walton]

It wasn’t very crowded, even for a small stage, and the audience had been slow to react to the opening band. (The Blackberries. Not much more to say about them. It was loud; it reminded me of things I loved when I was seventeen.) We waited patiently (as people in a dark room with drinks do) and the house DJ played some soul. Then Swim Deep walked on, and the lights went bang – in orange pink and turquoise, a homage to sometime in 1986. They struck into their first track with no talk, no chat, no introductions. People hopped around, eyes closed, someone dropped a cigarette, and on stage skinny boys from Birmingham leaped happily around.

Everything about them may have been carefully chosen – the loose shirts and loose hair, the way they look as though they might be daydreaming a little bit – but somehow it all seems non-chalant. It’s appealing; you feel like you’re sitting in on some talented friends’ band practice. They’d be making the music with or without someone there to hear them, as though we (the audience) are a really nice kind of treat. It seems like they’re really glad we came, but we’re just not the sole point of the show, but thanks anyway. This means that they sound good, and look good, and feel as though they give a shit – not about getting hype and adoration from the posse of girls standing stage centre – but about their music.

Their songs sound good, better live than at home on headphones. Austin Williams’ voice is clear and dreamy, it tilts off into the distance, it carries the songs and gives them a lightness that’s balanced by the steady bass and romantic keyboard riffs. Good for dancing. Also good for sitting by the sea on a hot day. They did a clever thing when they played a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. How does an indie pop band with a crush on Pink Floyd pull off that song without sounding shrill and contrived? In short, by not being hipster-ironic, and by using that nice old irreverent English charm. Instead of a pretty girl singing sky-high about girls having fun, you’ve got a pretty boy doing it, and it works.

They know their fans well, it seems, and saved ‘King City’ for last. There was some very happy screaming from the girls in the front. Then it was done, and they left the way they came in: no talk, except a “thank you”. No names mentioned. No fuss. Just off. Although, the drummer Zach Robinson tossed his towel into the audience, and the girls went wild.

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