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Swerve City - Swerve City @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 13/03/2021

14 Mar 2021 // A review by Ben Ruegg

It's a packed house. That's for sure. And that's good. Not only because we are out of Level 3 and 2 (woohoo) but also because it means that Swerve City get to celebrate the release of Sink Like Stones, the new single from this new band, that honestly, should have been able to play more last year. But I won't go there. We all know about COVID. If you don't, well, maybe you are reading this 30 years from now, or maybe you should use Google.

Anyway, back to the point. It's a packed house. As the opening act Cafe Fistfight take the stage, the lights dim down further and people start to pay attention to the four members. Cafe Fistfight has made quite a big impression on a lot of well-known music lovers, and rightly so. Tonight only reinforces why. They swell like the waves, moving from the acoustic-driven parts of their songs into epic sections where it becomes a cacophony of sound. A great example of this is what we hear in the first song. When the guitar solo kicks in, the audience is theirs; the melody of the vocal has now been shifted to the lead guitar and is being explored.

Overall, if you haven't seen or heard of Cafe Fistfight, again, I beg you. Go do your homework. I actually realised tonight that Service With A Smile, their debut single, has a real Counting Crows vibe to it when played live. And I guess that's a really good way to explain that this band takes all of that sort of sound and smashes it together with the likes of Tool, Karnivool and other prog-laden bands like Outside In. Then it filters through them in a refreshing way.

A highlight was the fact that they decided to go thug life on the audience and drop The Pot by Tool in the middle of the set. But then again, their musicianship throughout the show is on fire. Every member is an integral part of it. The way that Jesse and Dan play so tightly together, with Josh playing beautiful lead without stealing the attention away from Chris and his acoustic guitar playing and vocals are a testament to their love of songwriting. The crowd were wowed and so was I. You really need to pay attention to this band, not just pay the door fee to get in. Also, Dan, I'm putting it here in writing. You are like the Steve Judd of NZ. Just sayin'.

Next up is Mudshark, who I have only seen once before. And again, they didn't disappoint. I love how they sound, act on stage and write their songs. The moment their first track started, the crowd were drawn in, this time by the synth and heavy guitar intro. It's a great riff and has a sense of that Arabic/middle eastern scale that so many people love. And while the vocals are screaming, they really are perfect. Rory is a great front man. Fun to watch and really balances the way that Mort just stands there like a man possessed, kicking out killer riffs with no effort at all. He in the zone, closely keeping an eye on Rory as he dives straight into the deep water like a Mudsha...... Nah. Too early for stupid puns. Sorry lads.

Anyway, as I was saying, they didn't disappoint. At the end of the first track, after a funky section, I mentioned to a friend that I thought they reminded me a bit of Mr Bungle. He said Faith No More. I guess we are both right. But then, the second song has a Guns n Roses feel to it! What is happening here? Influences are coming left right and centre. What genre are they exactly? Who cares! I hear Marilyn Manson too. I could list a lot. Either way, they are super tight, full of energy and have heavy breakdowns at times. And then there is the humour. The old throw in the One Last Breath from Creed gag gets everyone laughing. But it doesn't stop there. "Dropping sticks three times!" the drummer proclaims! Mort gets into a debate of exactly how many times they were dropped. The crowd is watching and laughing at the same time.

Next, they dive right into Lamb of God's Laid To Rest which I had seen performed with the help of one of the bar staff downstairs. Tonight, Rory himself laid the crowd to re...... waste. Honestly, I gotta stop this punny business.
Finishing up with one last track, the crowd cheers them on and eagerly awaits Swerve City.

As Swerve City make their way through the super packed crowd dressed as they were in the Sink Like Stones video, they check their levels and then kick straight into high gear. Boom! Sink Like Stones starts and the crowd, again, like what happened with the other two bands, are now under the command of JP, Kev, Shannon and Adam. The opening track sounds fantastic with all the parts sounding as they do in the original recording, only clarifying even more how much work they put into their songwriting. Can I plug here the A/muse Episode where I talk to Shannon about this? Sure, why not! Its episode 7 by the way.

Swerve City was meant to have had more gigs last year as mentioned, but the way they perform on stage would probably get you questioning the truth there. I mean that wholeheartedly in a good way. JP has a stage presence. But not only JP; Kev, Adam and Shannon too - they are tight and they are well-rehearsed.

Their second song Good Enough has some wicked tag-team vocals happening in the breakdown which sounded epic. Here is a song I want to hear the recording of so I can playlist it. It has some huge riffs which are what I would expect from what is essentially a supergroup with all the members coming from previous bands and joining together to form Swerve City.

When they launched themselves, they released Dangerous which is actually a cover.
"Things are gonna get a little Dangerous", JP proclaims to the audience.
Well, thank you good sir for taking away the need for me to use puns in this review. You did it for me!
"It's a shit joke, they made me say it!". Come on JP! I found it funny!

The way in which they present this cover is huge. The bass is thunderous and the last chorus just goes off. It's so evident how into the band are when you can see the crowd and all those on stage getting lost in the music. Even when the majority of songs are currently unreleased, they still present them in a confident manner. Every song had a clearly defined structure, form and instrument parts that showed thought and consideration. The bass lines are tight and compliment the song, the lead lines aren't overplayed, while the drums keep thundering and bringing everything together. Songs like Avalanche show some of the diversity in the rhythm that a rock band can bring. The song Dead Dreams showcases some cool riff ideas with little melodic twists that catch you off guard but sound interesting and certainly keeps you listening.

At the end of the set after thanking all the bands and everyone involved in helping with making the event a success, they jump into Air Support which I loved a lot. The reason for this is because that stage presence I spoke of comes to life again here. During Moving Pictures earlier in the set, the whole band got the audience clapping to help get the song started. But here, during Air Support, JP really gets everyone into it. Back and forth between the band and the crowd singing "Call for the Air Support", it's third time lucky and everyone gets right into it. JP's command cannot be denied. His passion for what he does like the others is undeniable. As a unit, they look and sound like the real thing, which of course they are. Even Kev steps up at the end of this song and takes lead vocals for the ending. It is a massive cymbal wash to finish up. A couple of thank you's again but you know they ain't going anywhere. With the crowd calling for an encore and the night almost over, they quickly pick up their instruments and jump into one more original and then My Own Summer by the Deftones. It's an absolutely awesome way to finish the night.

Overall, without a doubt, tonight was a massive success. Swerve City has proven to fans and newcomers alike that they have the goods. The sound, stage presence and songs are all there. The sounds defined and are consistent. They have a clear vision of what this band should look and sound like and they are laying the foundations required for future success. It's incredible to see how many people showed up to support the local scene where I believe a lot of incredible bands currently reside. We need to get out there amongst the others and tell them about the bands we saw at the weekend, and of how good they are. We need to not just say we will go to a show, we actually need to get there and be surrounded by others who feel the same. All three bands tonight were fantastic.

I look forward to seeing more of them in the near future. Although, I'll need a new way to make sure I mark the date. I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory. All I did was take a day off.

Photo Credit: Chris Zwaagdyk / Zed Pics


About Swerve City

Swerve City are an exciting new rock band from Auckland featuring members from Fire At Will, Armed in Advance, Sematics and Saints of Taboo.

Swerve City possesses a sound that blends Melodic Rock with undertones of Metal and Pop sensibilities.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Swerve City


There are no releases to display for Swerve City.

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