Swim Deep, Wolf Alice, and Circa Waves // Birmingham Town Hall // 20.09.13
Birmingham Town Hall has had many legendary artists grace its stage such as the likes of Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. On 20th September 2013, local band Swim Deep joined the growing list of legends as they played their first hometown gig in months. There was an energy in the crowd that night and the pre-gig songs playing were a good selection, ranging from Tame Impala’s ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ to Drake’s ‘Started At The Bottom’ which got the crowd chanting, eager for the arrival of Swim Deep.
First on to support were Circa Waves, one of Liverpool’s newest bands. The four-piece started with a dynamic energy blasting their unique brand of indie-rock and this energy continued, unwavering throughout their set. They powered through their performance which included their brilliant single ‘Young Chasers’ which can be found online. The enthusiasm in the bands playing and movement was riveting, and this enthusiasm was mirrored onto a percentage of the crowd, who seemed to love it
Budding angst-tinged indie-rockers Wolf Alice were next up to support. Having played in Birmingham several times and naming it their ‘adopted hometown’, the band were definitely not new here and this was clear with the confidence they held as they walked up to their places. The audience received them eagerly, already showing the popularity of the band who have received much hype recently and rightly so. Ellie Rowsell’s vocals were mesmerising and, paired with the tight instrumentals and gusto, it was a brilliant mix. They made sure to play the crowd pleasers; ‘Fluffy’, ‘Bros’ and the newly released track ‘She’ from the ‘Blush’ EP. The audience fed off the music readily and were even jumping and crowd surfing to the softer tracks. Sooner than expected, the set was over and Wolf Alice left the stage to the shouts of the still thirsty crowd. But the disappointment was numbed by the anticipation of the arrival of the headliners of the night… Swim Deep.
With Swim Deep entering the stage to the theme tune of Jurassic Park with a gaudy abstract backdrop, you know it isn’t going to be an average gig. Bizarre choice of opening song aside, Swim Deep were finally home.
With the Birmingham band’s debut album ‘Where The Heaven Are We?’ charting at number 20 in the UK Charts, they have tonight to prove they deserved that ranking. The band proceeded to play their hometown gig in a venue they probably thought they’d only dream of playing… well clearly not. With the band each sporting their unique and trademark flamboyant grunge styles, and with Austin with his rainbow-striped guitar, they were evidently at home in these surroundings. Starting things off with Francisco, the crowd surged forward, instantly awoken by the bands arrival. The track kicked off eager bouncing, rhythmic with Austin’s dreamy vocals and Zachary’s drumming.
The first surprise of the night was when the opening beats to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ starting blasting. The whole atmosphere changed as, instantaneously, every single person in the room began to sing it back to the band word-perfect. Even my friend, who had come along not knowing the band previously, started jumping and singing along with the other 2000+ people in the room, as they were all reunited with their love for this classic track. It was clear of the amount of effort and attention Swim Deep gave to this gig, as if recognising the prominence of the venue they were lucky and deserving enough to be playing.
The second surprise was just before ‘Soul Tripping’ as Austin introduced a 24-piece choir to the stage who also contributed to the enthralling ‘She Changes The Weather’. The choir included an enthusiastic dancing woman who was equally matched by the brilliant James Balmont on keys whose entertaining dancing carried on throughout the whole set and was complimented by the rest of the bands animated movements. Favourites ‘Honey’ and ‘The Sea’ were clear crowd favourites, as over a thousand arms frenzying to the words “don’t just dream in your sleep, it’s just lazy” got the band even more pumped.
On bringing Wolf Alice back to the stage they received a massive applause. The two bands then proceeded to perform a special rendition of ‘Tassle Man’ which Ellie (Wolf Alice) and Austin (Swim Deep) claimed they had written whilst drunk one night. The stage was swamped with two of Britain’s coolest, carefree bands. The air in the Town Hall was electric and, despite not being familiar with the track, the atmosphere spread through the venue. The mix of bands plus a new, upbeat song resulted in every single band member singing and jumping about eagerly before ending with the only song that could top off this incredible gig, ‘King City’. Their feel-good, sun-kissed single closed the show with joy and excitement, with the audience and band putting even more exertion in as if to finish on a final bang.
Swim Deep made it clear that night that despite their rapid rise to fame and playing international festivals after merely two years of forming, they haven’t forgotten their B-Town roots and, even more importantly, are sounding better than ever.
All that was left was the after-party…