Photos by Glory Anna Breitweiser.
The Swayback held its “Long Gone Lads” CD release show at the Bluebird Theater on Saturday, but lost out a bit on crowd numbers due to the Daniel Johnston show down the street. It was surprising just how thin it seemed in the venue when the Denver heartthrobs began to play, but for the most part it filled in through the set.
It was an early show, too, which was a bad call for people used to seeing headliners go on late. Red Orange Yellow has been blowing minds with their alien rock and very few people got to catch them as the night’s openers.
Autokinoton was the second band to play and their three-piece, spaced-out hardcore rock, with no vocals, simply owned. DJ Michael Trundle (Lipgloss) was next up and brilliant on two accounts, not only because he’s one of the best transition DJs in this town, but also because his set passed some much-needed time, allowing the audience to thicken before The Swayback took the stage.
When you’re used to getting the Denver trio’s sweat on your face at smaller, packed-out club, you can only hope they will plug into the same energy on a bigger platform.
On this night they pulled off a high-energy, engaging performance showing off newer songs from “Long Gone Lads” (some of which equated to standards, like “Forewarned”). I can’t lie — I’m ready for more from the band. More news songs, more new curves and bends, more one-upping themselves at their live shows. You can get involved in the music, beats and sexual energy … but I’d love to see the boys interact with the audience more than themselves. They can push the envelope more, and I look forward to them doing so.
It seems to be hard for bands to get visuals that work well as backdrops to their set, as if we all just found out about videos and projectors. Just because it’s neat doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea to throw something up there. I have yet to be truly impressed with a band in Denver that can pull off a perfect dose of visuals — not too heavy, not too “screensaver.”
Swayback singer/bassist Eric Halborg has always been good at design and film concepts. He tends to keep edits dirty and go with a more underground approach toward his subject matter. In the case of this show I was happy to see a specially-ordered, round screen in place for their performance. Their projections consisted of strange, random clips and, for the most part, television static, which kept things focused on the music. It looked great, but in the end, The Swayback never needs any visual aids. Their stage presence is enough to sustain a crowd (although having visuals did seem a lot more professional).
I drank a lot, and I highly recommend the same for anyone that goes to a Swayback show. Sure, for the ladies the experience is a bit different, and guys, don’t bring a date to see them play. It will only sober your ego the minute you see her staring at Halborg’s tight pants or guitarist Bill Murphy’s double-low V-neck T-shirt. These guys consistently pull-out the dirty rock ‘n’ roll show, they just need to consistently get out of this town to do them. Crowds in Denver love this band, but its true cult following may well be outside of this town.
Reverb contributor Lisa Gedgaudas also writes for Colorado Music Buzz.
See more of contributing photographer Glory Anna Breitweiser.