The Swellers

support All Or Nothing + A Man Down + The Faux
author AP date 05/05/10 venue Joiners, Southampton, UK

After realising that my dissertation was not going to be done in time for official hand-in on May 6th, and discovering that our photographer was unable to do the scheduled interview with The Swellers due to being stuck at work, my thoughts ran along the lines of “fuck it”. If you want something done, you do it yourself – and besides, an evening of punk rock at the beloved Joiners in Southampton beats an evening of intense typing and referencing any day, at least in my book. Rambles aside, here’s some reviews for your viewing pleasure:

The Faux

On Their MySpace page, The Faux name bands like A Wilhelm Scream, RX Bandits, The Mars Volta and This Is A Standoff as influences, but as soon as these local boys grind through two ill-conceived tracks of maniacal, tongue-in-cheek chaos, any similarities to the aforementioned bands are rendered void. I’m thinking a more accurate description of what it sounds like is Good Clean Fun spiked with mathcore: hyper-speed hardcore punk with occasional lapses into total discord, lyrics about Mark Wahlberg in the movie “Shooter”, and plenty of humorous banter in between bursts of song. The first sentence of this review might sound a little antagonistic, but rest assured that as The Faux move further into their set and people begin to get the gist of it, the show is actually pretty cool as long as one bears in mind that it’s not serious business. Silly jazz interludes are played lying down on the floor, while the dissonant mathematic parts are accompanied by equally distorted face expressions and acidic dance moves. As such, the most enjoyable thing about watching The Faux is that they have no constraints, no restraint, and no regard for aesthetics; accept that they will never make it; and just play music for the sake of playing music.

A Man Down

Next up are Brighton-based A Man Down, who steer the evening in a somewhat more serious direction with their light-hearted, lo-fi pop punk. The band’s vocalist Sam has clearly seen, and been influenced by A Loss For Words (who toured the UK earlier this year) – acknowledging the thinness of the crowd and arranging it into a crescent around him on the venue floor. Just like Matty (AL4W), Sam uses every available inch in the venue, running around shouting into our faces and jumping up and down in the best pop punk fashion. I have tremendous respect for bands who do not let themselves be disappointed by the turnout, and instead give the few who bothered to turn up their money’s worth and then some. This is exactly the kind of performance A Man Down puts on tonight, even if it falls a little short of A Loss For Word’s allure. Songs like “Scene Not Heard” and “’Cos You Had To” provide a welcome contrast to the ear-grating noise unleashed by The Faux just before, and even without prior knowledge these songs sound incredibly catchy, the harmony between Sam’s baritone singing and guitarist Leon’s slightly higher contributions adding a unique touch to a genre usually characterised by high-pitch, nasal vocals.


All Or Nothing

All Or Nothing belong in the latter group, and offer a more spirited, carefree rendition of the same stuff. Last I saw them supporting A Loss For Words here in Southampton, their music sounded too calculated and obvious to form a lasting impression but was nonetheless something to bob one’s head to while knocking back pints of beer. Having listened more to the band’s music since, the show goes down better this time, although the band makes little attempt at putting on a performance. All Or Nothing seem all too content standing on stage and letting their music speak for itself. Nonetheless songs like “Hate Being the Dip Guy” and “One Night, Five Stops, Five Hits and a Getaway” work within these frames and one thing is at least certain: I’d rather be standing here watching All Or Nothing than writing up my dissertation. In summary: standard fare pop punk delivered with competence but no standout moments.

The Swellers

From the first time I heard “Dirt”, The Swellers have been high on my must-see list. The band, in my opinion, has the potential for stardom, so catching them in small venues like the Joiners might soon become a thing of the past. I always tend to think that Southampton-based bands exhibit tremendous potential, too, but when a band like The Swellers steps on stage and plays, plays, plays with perfect sound and almost no breathing breaks, the class differences between local bands and their more experienced peers from across the pond become that much clearer. Just by stepping on stage the band exerts a sense of authority over the now thicker crowd, and the unanimous sing-alongs to songs like “2009”, “Fire Away” and “Do You Feel Better Yet?” and “Dirt” confirm the respect and following that this band already commands. Indeed, most attendants seem content with listening and singing along, but it still bothers me that the band is not doing more to win over the few who aren’t. Instead, one gets the impression that this is just another gig – even though vocalist Nick insists this is the best show they’ve done on this massive UK tour and “lets” us pick the closing song. When someone screams “Mud”, the band seems bothered by his ignorance, but treats us to “Dirt” (the best song by this band in my humble opinion) nonetheless before wrapping up this professional, but somewhat distant performance with the usual thank yous and we’ll be back soons.


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