Swingin' Utters

support The 20Belows
author PP date 24/11/10 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

It's a bit of an embarrassment to Rockfreaks.net that yours truly, the punk rock correspondent of the site, has only heard four or five Swingin' Utters songs prior to the show tonight. After all, these California punk rockers have been releasing full lengths since 1992, totaling six studio albums so far, a live album, a b-sides collection, and a compilation of early records in the time between back then and today. I guess you can attribute a lot of that to the fact that their last studio album is from 2003, the year this magazine was started, and since then I've had my hands tied with discovering a gazillion new albums per year, not leaving too much time to look into the old stuff. Perhaps the Danish punk fans feel the same way, after all it has been over twelve years (or was it eight?) since their last visit to this country, considering the moderate turn out at Loppen tonight. Plenty of space, lots of old people, and not too many sing alongs is the theme tonight. But lets not get ahead of ourselves, lets start with the support band, The 20Belows.

The 20Belows

Prior to the show, you could see The 20Belows vocalist posting on the Facebook event of the show, enthusiastic about the upcoming show since he's been looking forward to seeing Swingin' Utters for the longest time. What honor it must have been for them to open the show tonight, then, right in front of one of their favorite bands. With the horrifying antics of Sum 41 fresh in mind, it's great to see these guys just get straight into it, and play for the first four or five songs without any reason for stopping. Their goal is clearly to play as many songs as possible, especially given how it seems like only a few people here tonight have heard of the band, as if to give the crowd a large taster of just what this band is all about. Unsurprisingly, he response is kind of slow in the start aside from the usual suspects of the Danish scene, but towards the end, when the band clears our their hit-material from "For Better Days", people finally take a few steps closer to the stage and a much more energetic atmosphere ensues immediately. The band doesn't spend much time talking to the crowd in between the songs - mostly because Ulrik himself pronounces that he doesn't really know what to say so they'll play songs instead. That's cool - we get a lot of songs, but I feel like The 20Belows could appeal to a much wider audience if they opened up slightly more and added just a couple of pauses where they would engage the crowd a little more. Still, nothing to major to complain about tonight.


Swingin' Utters

I've always wondered how punk rock evolved from bands like Bad Religion, Social D, NOFX and Lagwagon into the Midwestern type of bands like The Lawrence Arms. It's been the 'missing link' in my punk rock education ever since, but tonight I found my answer. California bands exactly like Swingin' Utters bridged that gap, fusing together old school punk rock a la Social D with the harmonies of Bad Religion and the modern melodic 90s punk vibes. These guys will definitely make it high up on my favorites list once I listen to them more. There's only about a few dozen people here, but that's what happens when you haven't been in the country for twelve years. Luckily, the small crowd makes the most out of it, and appear enthusiastic and energetic no matter what song Swingin Utter's play tonight, effect which is mirrored by the band. They produce a great vibe and good energy on the stage, and although it's questionable why the bassist is wearing sunglasses inside, it's clear that these guys live and breathe old school punk rock spirit. The vocalist spends a lot of his time grabbing the mic stand and moving around, whilst the rest of the band is content in creating small bursts of energy within their own personal spaces. That doesn't matter, Swingin' Utters look and sound great tonight. The thing is, they're one of those bands with so many seminal songs that every now and then you'll recognize a classic you just didn't know was by them, so they can pretty much play anything from their discography and still be great. That's what they do tonight as well, they play a million billion songs (or so it feels like) with pretty much no pauses in between. Unlike SOME bands (*cough* Sum 41*cough*), these guys maximize their time playing songs instead of adding in unnecessary bullcrap.

But the fact that they play 27 songs tonight is also a little bit problematic. I get it, they haven't played here in ages, but maybe, just maybe, they could've cut the set a couple of songs shorter. It's a treat for the die-hard fans, but considering their vast discography, there's only a couple of people here tonight who know all of the songs. The majority knows maybe a few albums or so, and thus any mass movement and crazy behaviour from the crowd is limited, because it's always just a part of the audience rocking out to the songs. That's a minor detail, however, and overall Swingin' Utters prove tonight why so many people hold them in such high regard: great songs and lots of them, great energy, and a very old school punk rock attitude/atmosphere all the way through.


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