With the new year comes the possibility of lots of fun new artists to keep our earbuds warm through the last leg of winter, so last night I headed over to the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch to see whats what. Very lukewarm start I’d say. So the Old Blue Last have teamed up with DIY to create Hello 2017 – every Monday eve of January they have a night of three to four bands playing (for free) in their upstairs gig area (even though yesterday was Tuesday but I’m not prepared to figure out what happened here so go with it). Great idea for those like myself with a day off on Tuesday (and Wednesday lol do I even go to uni). Last night hosted Girl Ray, Cosmo Pyke, Puma Blue and Swimming Tapes. Yes they are all exceptionally dumb names but hey it’s Shoreditch.
I didn’t actually make it for the first three bands, but I’d just paid 15 quid for an Uber so I wasn’t leaving empty handed. By the time I’d arrived, the queue to get up to the actual gig wasn’t ideal (waiting in it made me miss an entire band) but I was equipped with beer so all was well. I wasn’t short of entertainment either, the girl in front of me was very obviously experiencing drugs for the first time and was in the midst of choreographing quite an impressive solo dance routine.
Fast forward to the bit I made it upstairs and Swimming Tapes were just setting up. Swimming Tapes consist of four very awkward looking Irish man boys who look like they could probably score themselves a E4 drama series about 4 very awkward looking Irish man boys. In a band.
It was perfectly good bobbing music. The kind of music you listen to on a sunny commute and life isn’t too bad or too good, it’s fine. They were doing that thing that indie bands tend to do where they were permanently stuck in the position you’re in before you do a bungee jump but keep chickening out. While their performance was nothing that hasn’t been done before on that stage, the romantic gushy melodies and the soft-toned harmonies did compliment each other well, proving they at least have the hazy dream pop act down to a T. Between songs when they engaged/started warming up to the crowd that’s when a glimpse of personality came through, which then filtered through to the last few songs of the set. It’s true that confidence is key here, and for a band that already so firmly fits into the indie pop mould while lacking elements of musical individuality, personality will go a long way to separate one band from the rest.
I can see Swimming Tapes doing well in playing small gigs like this. A night of Indie pop wasn’t really what I was expecting from Old Blue Last, but we’re all getting older so maybe a slow Tuesday isn’t a bad idea. Either way I’m excited to see what next week brings for Hello 2017, and if you’re in the area I’d recommend checking it out – if only for a beer and a good vibe.
Words by Laura Copley