Wild Swim: The Cockpit, Leeds, 26/10/12

With debut single ‘Echo’ getting airplay on 6 Music and recently popping up as the Guardian’s new band of the day; Oxford based rock quintet Wild Swim drew an expectant, sizeable crowd out of a wintry Leeds night and into the cosy upstairs room of The Cockpit. At under half an hour, their set seemed quite short for a headline act, but that was plenty of time to get a good idea of their sound. The level of musicianship was high and each member gelled well, carefully crafting dreamy, effect-heavy indie rock, embellished with samples and programmed beats.

Although it comes with the territory, some of the material did seem self-indulgent at times with extended effects pedal tweaking sessions cropping up in several songs. Whilst sometimes it would build cleverly towards a crescendo or the next section, it often dragged on a bit. Although admittedly their strength lies in the complexity of these instrumental sections, they could do with paring them down somewhat to make the experience more palatable.

The stand out track was the debut single’s B-side ‘Bright Eyes’; with the drummer playing around the programmed beats to really drive the song on, whilst warm e-piano and an echoing guitar line provided a rich bed for the vocal. The singer’s delivery was theatrical to say the least and despite sounding quite overblown on record, it worked well with the energy of a live band. The lyrics weren’t too intelligible, but that is an unfortunate side effect of live sound in a small venue.

Though the end of the set was marred by a lack of attention at the sound desk, they gave an enthusiastic performance which kept the crowd engaged for the most part. Whilst not ground-breaking, there is certainly a lot of potential in these guys and with the mainstream media attention they’re attracting you will certainly be hearing a lot more from them soon.

Karl Bos