You know that stock footage of The Rolling Stones you always see in documentaries? The footage where it’s the band escaping into cars or screaming girls clambering over seats in theatres hyperventilating and wetting themselves with excitement? Well, when Swim Deep came on to the Jurassic Park soundtrack at KOKO – that is what the scene below reminded me of (minus the piss). The crowd was an ocean of excitable teenage girls and preened teenage lads equally excited to chirpse said girls up at the end. The whole venue resembled a sort of teenage-limbo-wacky-warehouse with its multiple levels, stairs, balconies and caverns.
‘Francisco’ ushers the night in with a joyous crowd counting 1-2-3-4! From here the bouncing begins and doesn’t stop until the final second of encore and set-closer ‘King City’. The band oozes stage presence. It’s almost difficult to concentrate on a single member – frontman Austin Williams struts around, gangly and proud in a dashing velvet shirt, the bassist is sporting an outrageous pair of flared trousers and the keyboardist, rocking an equally eccentric look is throwing shapes deserved of their own NME award! As the show progresses though, all eyes are on Williams. With his lanky frame and regularly angled leg, he boasts an impressive presence (a rock and roll flamingo) and keeping with the opening theme, his skinny waist and embarrassingly fantastic moves evoke a Jagger-esque quality.
‘Honey’ and ‘Stray’ prove big sing along moments. Austin’s soothing voice does well to carry the tracks out into the venue and the band provides a tight musical accompaniment. ‘The Sea’ proves to be equally victorious in getting the crowd moving, inciting another pretty boy mosh pit in the middle of the crowd. This phenomenon persists throughout the gig, proving hilarious to watch from the balcony as the lads takes a breather after each song to correct their now-ruffled short back and sides. Already running on full-power, the band manages to turn things up to frighteningly excitable extremes when they treat the crowd to a cover of ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’. The crowd lap up the novelty offering and a party atmosphere is confirmed. We’re celebrating. Swim Deep are playing at KOKO a night after Prince and it’s a pleasure to watch. A big old rock and roll breakdown at the end of ‘Red Lips I Know’ emphasizes the lads are here to have a good time too.
Perhaps due to a minor bout of crowd fatigue, a new offering possibly called ‘Hotel California’ sees a brief atmospheric lull but this plays into the hands of Swim Deep. Frontman Austin performs a delicate ‘Intro’ that melts perfectly into a euphoric ‘She Changes The Weather’. It’s epic stuff – a Hoppipolla-esque height that could easily find itself sound-tracking a blind orphan making it through to the X Factor live shows (you can’t help but smile). The thumping chimes of ‘King City’ follow and we’re witnessing a mesmerizing grand finale – Williams pops a bottle of champagne on top of a speaker stack and sprays the crowd below! He treats himself to a glug – after such a spectacle, he deserves it!