On Sunday April 14, California natives SWMRS, led by frontman Cole Becker, made a stop at The Phoenix Concert Theatre while touring their new album Berkeley’s On Fire. Supported by local indie rockers Goodbye Honolulu, as well as state mates Beach Goons and Destroy Boys, the Toronto crew was in good west coast company.
With a bill full of millennial artists, the energy in the room was overwhelmingly positive and inclusive, speaking to the common goal of most young people today – always make positive change. Cole spoke fiercely about sexual assault prevention and advocated for their show to be a safe and accessible space for everyone. The lead singer of Destroy Boys, Alexia Roditis, pushed for all women identifying individuals to feel comfortable in the mosh pit if they wanted to be in there. This energy for change was present all night long and every single person in the room was invited.
The floor was already shaking as soon as Destroy Boys took the stage. SWMRS opened their set on a high note and that feeling never subsided. Cole used all surfaces to dance and sing on, including balancing effortlessly on top of the stage monitors. Moments of stillness were few and far between, as his liveliness is a huge part of their live show.
They played through many of their hits, including a large portion of Berkeley’s On Fire. Highlights included hiccupy anthem Hellboy, Lose Lose Lose, April in Houston and title track Berkeley’s On Fire, which features the lyrics YOUR TV LIES on their stage backdrop.
SWMRS have a largely punk attitude but their melodies create a pop dynamic. Cole alternates vocals with his brother Max, while often taking to the acoustic guitar to supplement his brother’s voice. This is definitely a band of brothers.
Cautious moshing began early on, but towards the end of the set, Cole encouraged a circle pit that eventually took up the majority of the floor. With a largely underage crowd, it was evident everyone was looking out for each other’s safety. Having fun is without a doubt encouraged in the crowd at a SWMRS show, but there’s a magnetic pull that leaves you drawn to the stage as long as they’re playing. Their anthemic punk rock is refreshing and catchy and something so fitting for the new generation of concert-goers and music listeners.
Between the shaking floor and dodging crowd surfers making it over the barricade, this show was definitely one of the best shows that I have photographed in a while. Cole belted out “JUST KEEP SWIMMING” at the end of the set, and I think those three words really embody the message that radiates from every person on stage that night. With shows as positive as this, you really want to take the shared energy in the room and bring that attitude to everything you do in the future once you leave the room.