The Interrupters + SWMRS @ Club Soda – 3rd December 2017

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There was a time when I would look at a Warped Tour line-up and know 90% of the bands on there. In recent years though, I’m lucky if I recognize 5. As if I needed any further reminders that I don’t know this pop-punk genre so well anymore, the raucous reception afforded to Oakland’s SWMRS upon their arrival on stage highlights my ignorance even more; clearly I’m the only one in the room who doesn’t know this band beforehand. The floor goes crazy at the first song, and basically never stops throughout the hour-long set by the first of tonight’s co-headliners. It seems like every song is greeted with the gusto usually afforded to a bands biggest hit. Crowd surfers take to the skies on Uncool, as drummer Joey Armstrong (son of Green Day’s Billie Joe, no less) smashes out the beats, and the rabid crowd sings every word, as they seem to for the entire set. On one song, Frontman Cole Becker requests a “wall of unity,” which is basically a wall of death, but nice, and culminates in a few hugs, which is another amusing set highlight. A massive circle pit greets the anti-Los Angeles anthem Drive North to round off a slick set. For an ignoramus such as myself, it was a good introduction to the band, and it was easy to see why they garner such a following. It will be interesting to see if the evenings other co-Aheadliners are as well received!

SWMRS Setlist

Palm Trees
Harry Dean
Silver Bullet
Miss Yer Kiss
D’You Have A Car?
Lose It
Turn Up
Figuring It Out
Drive North

The first time I heard Los Angeles’ The Interrupters, I thought The Distillers had reformed, and I got really excited, such are the vocal similarities between frontwoman Aimee Interrupter and the iconic Brody Dalle. Once I realized this was not the case, I kept listening to The Interrupters anyway, as they sounded like a fusion between the gruff punk of The Distillers and old-school ska like The Specials. Fittingly, as the lights drop, it’s Ghost Town by The Specials that heralds the bands arrival, and the visual similarities are striking too, as siblings Kevin, Justin, and Jesse Bivona bound onstage in matching suits and ties. Aimee follows soon after, grinning from ear-to-ear at the size of the crowd assembled, waving at different sections of the room briefly before the band tears into an hour of songs cut from their self-titled 2014 debut and new album Say It Out Loud.

And what an hour it is! The skanking ignites right off the bat on A Friend Like Me, and continues right through By My Side. Breakthrough song Take Back The Power is absolutely incendiary, setting off a bigger pit than anything SWMRS got; clearly, this was their crowd all along. In thanking the crowd, they describe their last 4 visits to Montreal, which really goes to show why they’ve picked up a sold-out-Club-Soda’s-worth of fans here already! Even they are surprised at their rise; Aimee mentions how just 3 years ago, they were the first of two bands opening for Less Than Jake in this same room (the other being Big D And The Kids Table…what a show that must have been!), and now they are here co-headlining it themselves.

They’re a truly likeable, affable bunch too. During Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me, a guy crashes the stage dressed exactly like the band, and gets his skank on. As a security guy prepares to drag him off, Aimee waves him off, and instead dances with the guy, letting him stay for the duration of the song. Moreover, she calls for him to join them back on stage later in the set! Beaming, the band are clearly having a great time, and judging from the frenzied reaction of the crowd, they are too. They tear through a note-perfect cover of Sound System by Operation Ivy, a nod to their Hellcat Records label boss Tim Armstrong, and the crowd gets their skank on around me once more, even on the normally sedate confines of the balcony. Nobody is immune; I gotta admit, I was busting a move myself…

After a brief reprise of A Friend Like Me, the band closes out the set with Family, with Aimee explaining how all assembled tonight are like one big family. And that’s what so unique about a punk show, compared to any other kind. As furious and energetic as the punk crowd can be, there’s always a sense of community there, where everyone is looking out for everyone else, picking up anyone who falls; it’s definitely not a vibe you get watching hipster bands at Bar Le Ritz. And now, we are all adopted into The Interrupters family.

If tonight is anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute riot.

The Interrupters Setlist

A Friend Like Me
By My Side
Take Back the Power
She Got Arrested
Haven’t Seen the Last of Me
Treat the Youth Right
This Is the New Sound
Easy on You
On a Turntable
White Noise
Divide Us
Good Things
Sound System (Operation Ivy cover)

Review & photos – Simon Williams

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