I waltzed into The Majestic a few minutes past nine to be greeted by a nice whaff of weed and the blaring sound of Yung Hunger. For 30 minutes Yung Hunger took over the stage with their punk rock vibes. Good shit.
But then The Frights took the stage at 9:45, and the crowd got hyped. If you haven’t heard or seen The Frights, it’s imperative that you do both. Streaming their music is great, but seeing them live was such a glorious experience. When they first came on stage, I was so bamboozled because the lead vocalist, Mikey, looks just like Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend while the bassist was literally Christo Bowman of Bad Suns. My mind was being warped, I had no idea where I was or who I was watching dance around on stage, but 15 seconds into their set I didn’t care. The Frights will fuck with your mind because there are parts of each song that sound Beach Boys-esque. Killer harmonies, California surf-vibes and smoothness permeate the tunes until they don’t — when you least expect it, the 50s-esque jam that tickles your ears all of a sudden becomes a punk-rock British invasion banger, igniting the crowd into a hot-mess of a mosh pit.
Their set pretty much continued in this fashion — the interplay between classic surf and punk caused an ebb and flow in the crowd that was not only enjoyable to watch, but enjoyable to be a part of. But this was just the warm up, the preview of what was to come. The crowds vivacious dancing for The Frights was nothing compared to the wild molecular movement when SWMRS took the stage. Hailing from Oakland, CA SWMRS join The Frights in popularizing and revitalizing punk — surf punk.
I’ve been following SWMRS for a while now, but this spring marks their first ever US tour. With their debut album released just last month, people of all backgrounds, ages and flannels gathered round the stage in anticipation of their 45 minute set. Opening with “Harry Dean” and closing with “Drive North,” there was never a dull moment at The Majestic.
Extreme moshing, a crowd partition to allow more moshing, crowd surfing, bomb-ass drum solos, toe-crushing dancing, lots of hair motion and more ground-trembling rowdiness are just some components that make up a SWMRS show; it also doesn’t hurt that these fellas can engage with the crowd. Calling everyone out on being from the suburbs and introducing themselves as The Strokes? These boys are ~hilar~.
All jokes aside, between Max and Cole Becker’s distinct vocals, Joey Armstrong’s powerful drum beats and Seb Mueller’s impressive leopard coat and bass-playing skills, the quad really did get down. Basically, it went something like this: Cole acts as the director of both the band and the crowd. He get’s everyone worked up while he rips his guitar to shreds. He’s 2016’s Kurt Cobain.
Cole’s brother, Max, is off to the left murdering the vocal/guitar game as well. Differing from his brother, Max has a high-pitched Never Shout Never-esque voice that perfectly counters Cole’s deep, flawed yet flawless punk tone. The two of them work together to bring their recorded music to life in a slightly different, more natural and raw way. But as pivotal as the Becker’s are to the band, both Armstrong and Mueller fail at their attempts to lurk in the shadows.
Your ears are drawn to the Becker’s while your eyes can’t help but fall on the other half of SWMRS. With Joey lovingly pounding on his drum set with unparalleled focus and passion and Seb nonchalantly hanging somewhere both on and off stage slaying the bass, intrigue envelops you. You realize that without them just another talented punk band would be before you, but with them an element of sexy rock-star mystery hits hard. All of them, together, create both balance and chaos.
And to give you a further sense of closure and comfort, I’ll leave you with the wise words of Cole Becker: “Everybody thinks California is the place to be, but don’t forget that Iggy Pop is from Detroit.”