I haven’t stood in a crowd as young as the crowd at the Detroit stop of the SWMRS tour since acoustic children’s artist Graham Clark performed at my younger brother’s fifth birthday party. The realization of the crowd’s age diversity was the first thing I noticed upon entering the Majestic Café in downtown Detroit, as I was under the impression that the show I was attending was very much a somewhat underground punk show. I walked into the venue while opening act Young Hunger was blasting the crowd – comprised mostly of 14-16 year old girls and boys, their parents, and leather clad crust punks – with raucous, but otherwise standard punk rock tunes. However, when SWMRS frontman Coke Becker stuck his head out from backstage during Young Hunger’s set, the young girls that crowded the stage erupted into shrieks and pointing fingers until he disappeared. After a speech about the beauties and values of punk rock, Young Hunger finished their short set and made way for San Diego surf pop band The Frights.
As soon as The Frights exploded into their first track – from their latest record, You Are Going To Hate This, produced by Fidlar’s Zac Carper – their energy absolutely blew me away. Imagine Beach Boys-esque vocal patterns under layers of distortion and the incredible drumming of Marc Finn, and you have The Frights. The crowd ate up every second of their 30 minute set, even the quick interlude of Enter Sandman followed by a full cover of Weezer’s Undone (The Sweater Song). Overall, The Frights put on one of the most fun and impressive sets I’ve seen in a long time. Stream You Are Going To Hate This here.
As each member of SWMRS (especially drummer Joey Armstrong, son of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong) appeared from the backstage area, the cluster of teen girls at the front of the stage once again erupted into giggles and shrieks. SWMRS self-released their debut album Drive North earlier this year, an effort that truly caught me by surprise as being one of the records that I kept returning to during the first few months of 2016. Also produced by Carper, Drive North combines all of the members’ musical influences in a perfectly original way, and finally allowed the band formerly known as Emily’s Army to push past the preconceived notions brought on by their drummer’s last name. Stream it here.
The band played Drive North from front to back with an incredibly impressive amount of energy and joy, each lyric being sang back at Becker by the packed and emphatic Majestic Café. Before finishing out the set, Armstrong threw in an interlude of Dave Grohl’s drum solo intro from Queens Of The Stone Age’s Song For The Dead, a reference that flew right over almost everyone’s head… and he almost even nailed it.
Despite the weird nature of the crowd, SWMRS and The Frights managed to pull out all the stops and put on what was easily one of the most enjoyable shows I have seen so far this year. The joint tour lasts throughout much of the rest of March, bringing both bands through much of the midwest. Check out all the remaining dates below.
SWMRS / The Frights Co-Headlining Tour
3.15 Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
3.16 Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
3.17 Chicago, IL @ 1st War at Chop Shop
3.18 St Louis, MO @ Firebird
3.19 Des Moines, IA @ Lefty’s
3.20 Burnsville, MN @ The Garage
3.21 Omaha, NE @ Lookout Lounge
3.22 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge
3.23 Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheet