Review: SWMRS Syracuse performance is not fake news

Review: SWMRS performance is not fake news

The California punk-rockers embrace the political moment on second album "Berkeley's on Fire"
Published: April 15, 2019
Alternative Text
SWMRS co-frontman and songwriter Cole Becker, bandmates Max Becker (guitar, vocals) Joey Armstrong (drums) and Mueller (bass) play the Westcott Theater.

“Two thousand and nineteen is a f**king disaster,” SWMRS sings on the track ‘Lose Lose Lose’, but it’s safe to say that the band’s captivating concert at Wescott Theater in Syracuse last weekend was a win. Syracuse experienced an explosion of pop-punk, as the local concertgoers, both young and old, encountered the manic energy of SWMRS, (pronounced ‘swimmers’) an Indie Punk band from Oakland, California. SWMRS new album, “Berkeley’s on Fire” explores political themes of free speech and fake news, including a special shout-out to Vladimir Putin. If you aren’t familiar with SWMRS, the group is signed by Fueled by Ramen, alike well-known pop-punk groups Panic! At The Disco, Twenty One Pilots, All Time Low, Against The Current and Paramore.



On Saturday night, the floor space of Wescott Theater was swarmed with rambunctious punk rockers sporting dyed hair and torn jeans. A peculiar aroma from vape pen smoke filled the air as the opening acts warmed the crowd up with eruptive sets. Destroy Boys (from Sacramento) riled the audience with songs such as “I Threw Glass at my Friend’s Eyes and Now I’m on Probation.” Later in the set, SWMRS lead vocalist Cole Becker joined the band to sing a tasteful cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings” with lead vocalist Alexia Roditis. Violet Mayugba’s masterful guitar work meshed perfectly with bassist Falyn Walsh and drummer Narsai Malik’s driving rhythm section.

The next opening act, Beach Goons (from San Diego) blew the crowd away with a unique blend of fast-paced alternative punk with Latin influence. Songs like “Choker” and “Vatos Tristes” showcased this style perfectly. Comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Pablo Cervantez, bassist David Orozco, and drummer Chris Moran, Beach Goons sent the crowd into a frenzy with a heavy cover of Ritchie Valens’ classic, “La Bamba.”

SWMRS have been touring to support their second studio LP, Berkeley’s on Fire. The album has received positive feedback, including a glowing review from Kerrang. The band consists of brothers and guitarists Cole and Max Becker, bassist Seb Mueller, and drummer Joey Armstrong. Joey’s brother Jakob, an accomplished singer-songwriter, has joined the group as a touring member, providing extra guitar and keys. Fun Fact: Both Armstrong brothers are the sons of Green Day vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong.

SWMRS took to the stage and catapulted their show with the catchy “Trashbag Baby.” The song’s infectious chorus spread throughout the crowd, as audience members chanted it back to the musicians. Cole Becker performed like a man who was possessed. Sporting a black “Fuck the NRA” t-shirt, the musician danced in a frenzy to the band’s more up-tempo numbers. These songs include the appropriately titled “Too Much Coffee” and raucous “Hellboy.”

In between songs, Cole Becker took time to interact with the crowd. The frontman made impassioned speeches against sexual assault and other current political issues.

“When you walk through the door, you join a community,” Becker said. “ And that means we look out for each other. And that means we got to be extra vigilant when it comes to stopping sexual assault. So, if something gross is happening near you or to you, wave us down, make it known and we’ll stop the fucking show and get the fucking creep out of here. Okay?”

Much of the band’s setlist contained an eclectic mix of songs ranging from hard-hitting and intense to mild and melodic. The band works together as a unit, as each member contributes their talent to paint the musical landscape that makes up SWMRS’ unique sound.

SWMRS will continue to tour North America with shows in Toronto, Detroit, and Cincinnati. “Berkeley’s On Fire” is available on Spotify and most other streaming platforms.