As a rock music blogger, each year I see numerous live shows and countless bands. Every once in awhile, I’m at a gig reviewing a band when I’m absolutely blown away by one of the opening acts. They are rare but incredibly lucid moments where I realize I’ve stumbled across something special. It happened a few years ago with 21 Pilots, and just happened again this weekend at the SWMRS show at Orlando’s BackBooth.
Bay Area rockers, SWMRS are touring the country with fellow Californian rockers, The Frights. As much as I liked SWMRS, I was equally impressed by their neighbors from the Southern tip of the Golden State. The quartet from San Diego delivered an energetic and engaging set of Surf Rock with a cool punk vibe. The Frights approach to rock is fresh and exciting, and truly different than anything else I’ve heard in the past few years.
Listening to The Frights I couldn’t help but think that they’re performing the music Weezer would be playing if they were breaking onto the rock scene today. There are some similarities between both bands early in their careers, but The Frights possess something that the young Weezer did not have, and that’s an audacious, passionate stage presence. The three core members and their guest touring guitarist flew around the stage for every second of their 45 minutes set and put on one hell of a show.
They immediately snatched the attention of everyone in the house when they burst into their set with an explosive track, “You Are Going To Hate This,” the title track off of their brand new release. It’s a punk/ska/rock track that was a microcosm of what we were in store for over the next forty-five minutes. Lead singer and guitarist Mikey Carnevale has a distinctive gritty voice which is the perfect accompaniment to their invigorating music.
Marc Finn behind the drums dished out a non-stop supercharged beat that carried throughout every song. Carnevale, bassist Richard Dotson and the nameless guest guitarist were frenetically racing around the stage throughout the set. These guys were having fun, and the sense of enjoyment sucked in the crowd who were having an absolute blast. They jammed with each other and played off each other wonderfully and made the entire set their party.
The band members were witty and played to the crowd all night and definitely adjusted their interactions for their Florida fans. Decked out in a red “Help Me Rhonda” baseball shirt and red Vans, Carnevale spoke of previous trips and noted that he’s still never seen a gator in this state, wondering if they were just an urban legend. Perhaps he needs a visit to Lake Jesup?
Throughout the set, they had the crowd clapping, singing along and dancing – dancing non-stop. Three girls in the top corner of the balcony bounced around continuously, and they had a lot of company. The music is infectious, and the show captivating – great stuff for a relatively young new band. But, they are far more than a fun band, their music was fantastic: pristine guitar riffs dominated the night, with both guitarists eliciting the most delicious, pristine surf rock sounds I’ve heard in years from their trusty Fenders.
Highlights from their set included the mosh-inducing “Tongues,” the raucous “Crust Bucket” and the singalong closer, “Kids.” They also dished out a sweet cover of the Violent Femmes classic “Add It Up.”
The trio from San Diego has a ton of potential and I have no doubt that we all witnessed them in a cozy setting just before their career takes off. Check out their tour dates here, the setlist below and, do yourself a favor and snag their album now.
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You Are Going To Hate This
All I Need
Add It Up (Violent Femmes cover)