On October 28, SWMRS gave hometown fans in the Bay Area a memorable show at the UC Theater. Their sold out Halloweekend show, appropriately named Uncool Halloween, was a mini-fest featuring five other California-based bands: MT. EDDY, The She’s, The Buttertones, The Regrettes, and The Interrupters. From their roots as a band that began at the volunteer-run 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, selling out a local venue brings about pride and sentimentality from fans who have been supporting them from the start. This special show was the second to last stop on their headlining Farewell Drive North West Coast tour for their album Drive North, released in 2016.
All fans were encouraged to come dressed in their Halloween costumes to complement the get-ups of the bands. SWMRS appeared as: Dash from The Incredibles, a baby, a sugar skull, and a lead singer with face decorations of green paint, googly eyes, and light-up false lashes. Even the venue was outfitted with spooky decor, including ghosts hanging from the ceiling and fake cobwebs that lead singer of SWMRS, Cole Becker, excitedly shared that the band members’ moms all helped to set up. Next to the stage was a screen where projections of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween looped on mute, complimented by a free photo booth set with festive props so that fans could leave with a tangible souvenir to remember the fun. Considering they’ve been on tour playing shows domestically and internationally for the past two years, this show was a return to their high school roots and a chance to give hometown fans a glimpse at how this long touring period has seasoned their routine as performers.
The openers felt like anything but; the lineup of acts leading up to main event ignited high energy. All the bands are personal friends of SWMRS, and most groups are local East Bay bands that reminded us of SWMRS’s not so far-off DIY roots. Bay Area’s own alt-punk band MT. EDDY started off the night with their melodious tracks, followed by the thrilling indie-rock sounds of The She’s. The rockabilly tune of The Buttertones then filled the room, followed by the melodic charisma of The Regrettes, and then capped off with the intense stage presence of ska-punk band The Interrupters. Overall, the showcase of varying genres brought consistency in the form of each band’s raw talent.
SWMRS opened their set with an apt cover of the Scooby Doo theme song that set the spooky mood. But, it was their surprise of an intimate rendition of their song “Lost at Seventeen” from their album with the same name that was released in 2013, when the band was known as Emily’s Army, leaving OG fans singing the lyrics with endearing nostalgia. The duration of their set was a whirlwind of their fast-paced sound and brilliant hooks paired with engagement from the crowd by their initiating of circle pits and a Wall of Death. In order to ensure everyone was able to have a safe and fun time, SWMRS prepped the crowd with some guidelines for the pit which included respecting other’s bodies — and being assertive and punching a person in the face if you are disrespected — and maintaining a safe environment by telling everyone to be conscious of their neighbors. The result was thus a physically choppy-looking pit, fluid in its community-esque vibes, but staggering because of the height differences of older punk rockers with foot-long mohawks juggling drinks, alongside pre-pubescent and teen people.
Though SWMRS are internationally-known and have traveled with major headliners, their power in the form of their sold-out show demonstrated the well-earned respect they’ll always have in their hometown.
Written by Celia Davalos
Photos by Sam Jameson