Swimming Tapes – Green Door Store, Brighton – 13th April 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

“It’s good to be in Brighton – and it’s such a good line-up” Swimming Tapes stated during their headline set at Green Door Store. “I can’t remember the last time we played a gig with such a good line-up,” they continued. It’s testament to Hidden Herd, the online magazine who were putting on only their second Brighton gig, that they can gather bands such as Swimming Tapes, Thyla, Sad Palace and Nature TV for a fiver. It was an excellent collection of bands and an example that Hidden Herd could be the next best Brighton promoter, especially with another gig lined up next month at Sticky Mike’s headlined by Artificial Pleasure.

Opening on the night to a fairly packed-out Green Door Store was Nature TV. Describing themselves as, “Yacht rock” there’s a dream pop vibe to the Brighton four-piece, evoking the likes of Mac DeMarco and Homeshake. However, in a live setting, the jangly guitars and powerful bass gives the band a more substantial feeling, especially with single ‘Action’ which goes hand-in-hand with the spring evening. They’ve got a funny side too. As they approach their last song they stated, “This is our pièce de résistance… no it’s just our last song. Cheers!” It was an impressive set, and a great start to the evening.

Next up were South Coast four-piece Sad Palace, who continued the dreaminess with their supple vocals and lowkey basslines. Their best song on the night, ‘Blue Jewel’, a self confessed, “Fast and funky number”, showcased the band at their most fun but the most impressive aspect to the quartet is their diversity. While ‘Rainbow Melt’ is a heavier beast, with crunching guitars, their second single ‘Breeze’ exhibits an indie-pop vibe more akin to the likes of Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club. There was a nervousness to their performance, but it just added to Sad Palace’s charm.

Without a doubt the next band in line to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Royal Blood and Tigercub, Brighton’s Thyla showed that they can bring it in both big and small venues. Having seen them support Sunflower Bean the week before in the much bigger Concorde 2, it was an interesting contrast to see what they could do on the smaller stage. The simple answer is more of the same, as the likes of ‘Pristine Dream’ and new single ‘I Was Biting’ sound absolutely massive. There’s a tightness to the four-piece that makes it both look and sound like they’re loving every minute of being on stage. I could watch the band over and over again and still get the same feeling of seeing a mightily impressive live unit, such is the talent of Millie Duthie and co.

Thus, the stage was set for Swimming Tapes’ first ever Brighton headline show. There’s a feeling around the band at the moment as if they’re about to move into a new era, and the set had that aura too as they opened with a few new tracks. There’s a glimmer to these tracks that seems to come with everything Swimming Tapes put out, as if they’ve got fantastic pop melodies running through their veins. Mid-way through the set, the dropping of ‘Queen’s Parade’ brought cheers from the crowd. The final track on 2017 EP Soft Sea Blue is a blustery journey across the indie-pop genre, with a wider scale which evokes the likes of shoegaze giants Slowdive and Ride. Then, of course, came the hits. Ending on a very strong one-two of their biggest hits, ‘Cameos’ and ‘Alison’, Swimming Tapes showed that they’re one of indie-pop’s brightest sparks and capped off an exceptional evening for Hidden Herd.

Liam McMillen

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