Live Review: Swim Deep // The Mash House, Edinburgh, 17.06.24


Swim Deep culminated their There’s A Big Star Outside tour on 16 June 2024 at The Mash House in Edinburgh. Aesthetically, one of the defining factors of the namesake album of the tour its black and white visuals. Seeing it played live on the other hand, is an experience in technicolour, painted in tones of nostalgia.

My first time stepping into the venue to see a band I had adored since the age of 15 felt nothing short of magical. It’s a humid Sunday evening and the skies were gloomy. While they remained as such, a sense of warmth radiated from fans queuing to see a beloved indie band.

The opener, better joy, was a name previously unknown to me. Her style was similar to Hatchie, an artist who Swim Deep have collaborated with previously. Her sensual, mellow voice paired with the sonic, ethereal soundscapes produced by the guitars along with explosive drums set the tone perfectly for the main act.

In terms of the stage set-up, what instantly caught my eye was the sizeable star being the backdrop. Besides being an apt adornment given the title of their most recent release, it’s also an ode to the legendary American band Big Star, whose music seems to have influenced There’s A Big Star Outside. The fact that the band were situated between something emblematic of their heroes, and fans that admired them is symbolic of their growth through the different personal and creative changes they’ve gone through over the past decade.

‘First Song’ starts with its arpeggiator blips and warm, metronomic drumming, building a sense of anticipation among the audience. The song’s various dynamic shifts makes it an ideal opener for a show. Erupting into a loud, ambient wall of sound reminiscent of 90s shoegaze, there was a sense of acquiesce among the crowd: This is the band we’ve known and loved.

The highlights of the night were ‘Honey’ and ‘How Many Love Songs Have Died In Vegas?’. Both songs are in stark contrast with one another, with the former being carefree and transporting listeners back to the simpler times of 2013 Tumblr, while the latter becomes a reminder of the fleeting nature of relationships and uncertainty brought about by the passage of time. However, this further proves that Swim Deep have succeeded at expanding their sound palette through the years.

In a way, watching one of your favourite bands live is strange in the sense that you realise they’re real, breathing people. The songs that were being performed right before me weren’t just songs; they are another’s lifetime so far, put into music. Watching Swim Deep live furthered my appreciation for the personal direction frontman Austin Williams has decided to take in crafting There’s A Big Star Outside.

Seeing how much the band has changed from the YouTube videos I used to watch, this time, to an actual live show, has also led me to ponder the changes I’ve gone through while following their music. Hearing “Take your feet out your shoes and go crazy / Don’t just dream in your sleep it’s just lazy” became a reminder to me, and I’ll certainly be thinking about it for the foreseeable.

While Edinburgh was the final stop of the tour, it tells of the band’s ability to maintain longevity; this definitely won’t be the last we’ll be seeing of them.

As I watched them with wonder and amazement in my eyes, I realised that feeling like a 15-year old again isn’t always a bad thing. When listening to a band that’s shaped your formative years, you just have to.

Words by Marinel Dizon

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