review by Jordan Narloch
Sunday, March 20, SWMRS took their lengthy headlining tour to Burnsville with support from The Frights as well as local bands, Unturned and The Everyday Characters.
The Everyday Characters brought a young, enthusiastic charm to their set. Their unrefined image and sound were as pop-punk as it gets with their overly distorted guitar, Tom DeLonge accent, stickers galore, and fast tracks made even faster from pure excitement. Songs like “Alright,” and “Real Girl,” had the crowd smiling perhaps because they were remembering their own garage-punk band from high school…or maybe it was just me who was imagining myself on stage as they played “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World, a solid choice for any opening band looking for a sing-along.
Next was Unturned, a rising favorite in the Minnesota punk scene. I was skeptical about the band at first, but after hearing rave reviews and finally seeing them live, I was left captivated. From the opening chords, the band hooked me with their tight synchronicity. “Balancing Act” highlighted this ability as they could communally start and stop their instruments at will. The guitars built off of each other, growing in intensity as the drums became ever louder and more complex. Before I could fully comprehend it, the band muted everything, only to come back explosively and collectively; a skill I’d only witnessed from much larger acts. Aside from this, Parker Toyne riddled off his angry, depressed lines against the heavy instrumentation with ease. His hurt voice challenging his calm demeanor onstage as he bobbed straight-armed for much of the set, making for an impressive, thought-provoking performance. The only thing missing was a mosh pit.
Luckily, we got one when The Frights turned THE GARAGE into a “surf-garage-punk rock” mosh party. Twenty seconds into their set, my friends and I felt a movement. A long blonde-haired kid swaying next to us was getting ready for the chorus to go ballistic. This longhaired kid was none other than SWMRS singer/guitarist, Cole Becker. Energetic smiles grew around us in response and never let up as The Frights delivered their carefree, spooky Beach Boys-influenced punk rock. They showed their goofy spirit by playing a collection of odd covers such as “Paradise City,” a portion of “Enter Sandman,” and Weezer’s “Undone (The Sweater Song).” They emphasized their light moods by having us show “tiny rock horns” and mocking Minnesota playfully when they received little answer as to what we do for fun in our cold state. The band’s sound seemed sunny with an occasional cloud, perfect when paired with SWMRS’s. It had the undersized crowd of around 200 (seriously how did it not sell out!) more excited than most for an opener.
SWMRS began in the most punk fashion, making a mass of noise to no true end, setting precedent for the attitude of the entire set. “Harry Dean,” and “Brb,” had the crowd off the floor in a relentless glob that couldn’t be contained. Quickly I forgot that few people were behind me as the attendees more than filled the room with their excitement. Even this show was large in comparison to the band’s last in Minnesota, which only had “about 30 people.” Really, they couldn’t have been more appreciative. SWMRS was excellent at eliciting a positive response. They were enjoying their hour-long slot, and even produced a wall of death, something usually found at a metal show. Somehow it worked into the punk rockers’ set flawlessly. “Figuring it Out” had everyone jumping along, shouting every “whoa-oh-owahoh” back at them. While “Miley,” brought about surely the largest tribute to the “punk-rock queen” outside of one of her own shows. Other songs that typically utilized electronics as a driving force were re-done fairly organically, producing upbeat versions of “Miss Yer Kiss,” “Hannah,” and “Ruining My Pretending.”
They ended the set with an unusually positive outlook on our northern state. Cole Becker remarked that he wished he could move here someday. Appropriately this moved the set straight into “Drive North,” a song so punk that it opposes the traditional punk ideology that So-Cal is the place to go. Soon after, SWMRS returned happily for an encore, where they praised The Replacements and even delivered a rendition of The Cure’s, “Boys Don’t Cry.” The show was everything I had yearned for in a punk show. It had crunchy, carefree guitars, energetic drums, and a riotous crowd. SWMRS’ headliner was a show to remember.