By John Ambrosio
With two excellent albums full of catchy indie-pop/pop-punk tunes, Swearin’ is quickly proving themselves to be one of the better bands to come out of the 90s rock revival movement.
While they haven’t earned the notoriety of Swearin’ front woman Allison Crutchfield’s twin sister Katie (of Waxahatchee), last night’s show at Music Hall of Williamsburg demonstrated that Swearin’ might well be deserving of their own indie breakthrough.
Like most pop-punk bands, Swearin’ is definitely at home in dingy basements where they’re free to stand side-by-side with their audience. As a result, the beginning of their set from the five-foot high stage at Music Hall of Williamsburg was noticeably tense as the band struggled to connect with the relatively distant audience with shaky versions of “Irrational” and “Intro/Here to Hear.”
However, either because of positive feedback from the crowd or Radiator Hospital’s Sam Cook-Parrot’s familiar and drunken song demands, the band eventually settled into a comfortable groove that made the cavernous hall seem almost intimate.
After their somewhat-rocky start, Swearin’ really got cooking until finally hitting their stride toward the end of their set with high-energy versions of “Young” and “Unwanted Place”, both of which sounded noticeably more polished than their recorded counterparts.
In fact, most of the songs off 2013’s “Surfing Strange” sounded a lot better when given the live treatment. Moreover, when compared to cuts from their first album, songs like “Watered Down” demonstrated how much the members of the scrappy pop-punk quartet have grown as songwriters over the last couple years.
The end result of all this was that by the end of the night, the crowd was yelling the lyrics of older songs like “Hundreds and Thousands,” even as Crutchfield herself joked that she could never remember all the words.
Swearin’ also played a new, unnamed song that, with its upbeat rhythm, jangly guitars, and wonderfully off-key sneers, sounded not unlike a Built to Spill song, and stood out as one of the better and more distinct songs in their set. Other highlights include “Crashing” and a surprisingly fun version of the usually dark “Kill em With Kindness”.
Swearin’ closed with “Dust In The Gold Sack” which, given the resounding cheer, seemed to be a crowd favorite. They then played an encore of “Loretta’s Flowers,” which Crutchfield sang alone, and “Just,” which, to the band’s eternal credit, they somehow turned into a rocking, pogo-inspiring burst of energy.
John Ambrosio is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.