Following on from Don Broco’s sweat-drenched set in the NME tent, Birmingham-based Swim Deep enter in with rather large wellington boots to fill.
Unassuming, endearing and wonderfully vibrant, however, the obvious adulation for the packed NME tent from singer Austin Williams goes some way to bridge this gap between the unrelenting energy of Don Broco and the somewhat lighter undertones of Swim Deep. Shirt tucked in to high wasted trousers, Williams appears immersed, carrying Swim Deep’s late afternoon set.
In truth, creating cohesion between the old – Where the Heaven We Are – and the new – second album, Mothers – has proved a consistently challenging obstacle for the five piece to overcome. It is, however, in this moment under the youthful umbrella of the Reading festival that Swim Deep appear liberated; the inclusion of raucous 8 minute explosion Fuelho Boogie provides the most revealing showing of this. The crown in their set, Fuelho Boogie is accompanied by a perpetually spinning, lavishly frocked dancer who never quite matches the gracious flailings of Williams’ dancing… The absurdity of what we are witnessing is completely and utterly baffling, but miraculously, it is in this moment when Swim Deep – and their crowd – come to life.
For all their smatterings of energy and colour, somewhat frustratingly Swim Deep are let down by a lack of clarity and definition amid overly ambitious and overwhelming layers of reverb and delay. This only serves to erodes some of the melodic impact of Williams which in an unforgiving live environment, is hard to ignore. Visually, whilst Swim Deep are at times engaging, sonically, they fall short. With this, there are ifs, buts, and near misses riddled inexplicably within Swim Deep’s Reading set.
Whilst there is undoubted promise to Swim Deep, marking their place within the congested realm of their Indie-synth infused leanings is no easy task. Where they least attempt to bridge this gap between the hybridity of raw, driving guitars and the richer synth textures is where Swim Deep achieve their greatest success; unfortunately, however, these moments are few and far between.
Photo Credits: Getty