Mating Ritual And SWIMM At The Bootleg Theater, Thursday November 29th 2018
Dr. Martens is the sponsor of many musical events, it’s one of the sponsors of Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas and it was organizing a free show at the Bootleg on Thursday night, featuring two LA band, Mating Ritual, and SWIMM.
Mating Ritual is the project of brothers Ryan and Taylor Lawhon, who used to call themselves Pacific Air. After a critically-acclaimed EP and a debut album “How You Gonna Stop It?’ released in 2017, the prolific duo has released a new album this year. ‘Light Myself on Fire’. With the help of a full band, they effectively brought fire on stage with Ryan Lawhon’s strong vocals, a love for ’80s synths and a few intense dancefloors. Their set had plenty of poppy hooks and gritty soundscapes getting into dynamic aggression or engaging sing-along choruses, but everything stayed on a very danceable mood. Their sonic textures often had a cathartic component, combined with strong dance elements reinforced by synth lines bringing a retro aura with a pop-stadium ambition. With a few hip-moving tricks capturing the attention of the crowd, Ryan Lawhon had a strong stage presence, standing tall in the middle of their atmospheric pop-rock songs, and leading the game with a cool and seducing approach, a bit like a new Bono (maybe it was the cowboy hat mixed with the hair) whereas his brother had a far more discreet presence behind his keyboard. Soon the crowd moved at their engaging beats and catchy refrains, especially during ‘U + Me Will Never Die’ which had the most discotheque vibe of the night.
SWIMM was next with a different mood but equally interesting textural songs with guitars layering keyboard and even a saxophone in a dark corner of the stage. Vocalist/guitarist Chris Hess fronted the band with charm and sensuality, wearing a low-cut tee reading the funny line ‘Sluts R people too’, while their guitars sometimes brought to mind Tame Impala’s psychedelic layered pop (especially with the song ‘True Romance’). SWIMM was founded by two Floridians (Chris Hess and Adam Winn on drums) who have now moved to LA, and have released their debut album, ‘Sentimental Porno’ at the beginning of last summer. From echoing to aching vocals, they played a fluid music with an unexpected diversity, sonic detours, and driving soundscapes. A few stripped down songs on keyboard showcased Hess’ vulnerable vocals and brought up a sentimental and melancholic mood to an otherwise dynamic set, while several other of their compositions had somehow the road-driven vibe of ‘War on Drugs’ decorated by a nocturnal saxophone and some wobbling keys. They ended up their set with some intense boogie-like songs, introducing funky guitar lines and some exotic tempo which could have come from a David Byrne song. SWIMM’s music was going from emotional to tumultuous while their last song turned to be the most rock-like of the night, bringing more distortion than we had heard during the entire evening.
Mating Ritual and SWIMM, two interesting bands part of Los Angeles’ very rich indie scene, demonstrated they were able to mix pop hooks with personal and innovative arrangements to build today’s pop anthems. They danced on stage and made the crowd bounce at the sound of music led by 2 charismatic frontmen.