We all ‘grew up’ with something that, whether we knew it then or only now in hindsight, would be seminal to our lives.
There are the guys that grew up surrounded by feuds between Oasis and Blur. There are those that immersed themselves in the grunge scene and idolised Cobain, Cornell and Vedder. There are rave gurus that can still recall seeing The Chemical Brothers or The Prodigy years before they became commercialised.
What I’m saying is this: there comes a point when musically your life changes. It is subtle at first, but before you know it you are drowned in the culture and can never escape no matter how hard you try.
For me it was the B-town scene as it was known colloquially. Swathes of dream-pop-esque bands popping up between 2013 and 2016 would wear the most garish clothes you can imagine before touring extensively and attracting clones of yourself (who was the most individual person you knew, of course) – and I loved it.
Peace, Jaws, Superfood and most importantly: Swim Deep. With their pop-infused, heartfelt, instant classics they offered lyrics that would be scribbled on mixtapes featuring everyone from The Smiths to My Bloody Valentine. 2013’s Where the Heaven Are We? is as current now as it was six years ago, and as proved on a crisp Sunday night at Nottingham‘s Bodega Social Club, Swim Deep still have the ability to sell out shows and draw in crowds.
Opening with Francisco, there is a certain nostalgia in the air. We are all 17 again and drinking value vodka in a McDonald‘s cup slyly. The “1, 2, 3, 4” is as refreshing as it was the first time we heard it. Austin Williams’ vocals are as nailed on as they’ve ever been. Swim Deep are back and you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve never been away. Striped polo necks, ugly jumpers and a massively feel-good atmosphere from everyone in those four walls.
Nostalgia continues with Honey and its brilliant chorus; “Don’t just dream in your sleep, it’s just lazy,” you know the one. The show takes a psychedelic turn as Swim Deep start delving into sophomore record, Mothers, in the form of To My Brother and Is There Anybody Out There. This isn’t a surprising venture, nor was it at the time – Swim Deep‘s progression and development always felt natural and tonight’s flow of songs is, too.
Intertwining tracks from latest offering, Emerald Classics, gives the band more ammunition and you can see from their faces that this is the record that relit their fire and gave the band a new lease of life. 0121 Desire is everything a pop anthem should be; chant-y, clapping to the beat and full of passion wrapped neatly in a hilarity that no one is sure if it is meant ironically or not. Only certain bands can pull it off and Swim Deep have nailed it.
Fueiho Boogie ends the night on a massive buzz. Arguably their most ‘out there’ track, it is the one that the crowd use to have a ‘final’ dance – of course that’s not the end, though, as so many of us that spent so many hours in sweaty venues alongside the B-town bands know so well.
Returning to the stage to play the track that everyone wants to hear, Williams begins the eerily stunning intro to She Changes the Weather before rhetorically asking the crowd “do you guys wanna carry on chatting?” and restarting. It is the love song that we all thought was ‘deep’ back in the day, but continue to adore and sing to our heart’s content. It is ‘cheesy’ enough to be greeted with shy grins, but equally heartfelt enough to warm each of our cold hearts and on a Sunday night in October it did exactly that.
As the 10pm curfew neared, as too did the end of the setlist. One more to go and everybody knew it was going to be King City. One of the biggest B-town hits alongside Peace‘s Follow Baby and Jaws’ Friend Like You; King City receives the reception it deserves, but as it ends we are whisked away from the nostalgia trip we all thoroughly enjoyed. Back to normality. Back to looking back on fond memories. Back to remembering how many of those moments were soundtracked by Swim Deep.
Their sound has stood the test of time, but equally they’ve been open to change and that’s what makes the difference these days.