Rocky Horror Show

LIVE: Swimming & Dallas Simpson

19 March 09 words: Paul Klotschkow
Pushing back the boundaries of what we have come to expect from a live band performance
Dallas Simpson and Swimming at Lee Rosy's - photo by Dom Henry (c)
Dallas Simpson and Swimming explaining the show - photo by Dom Henry

Teaming up with experimental sound recordist, Dallas Simpson, Swimming manage to push back the boundaries of what we have come to expect from a live band performance, and take the audience to some freaky, mind-melting, trippy other world where the band seem to have somehow managed to crawl inside your head and play from deep inside your brain.

The audience remotely listening to Dallas Simpson and Swimming at Lee Rosy's - photo by Dom Henry (c)
Remote listening - photo by Dom Henry

So why is tonights gig so overwhelmingly bizarre and awesome? It is a headphones only show. This means that the band play in a separate room to the audience, with Dallas Simpson walking around the band as they play with tiny microphones in his ears. Then whatever he hears, you hear exactly the same thing in your headphones. The band and Dallas’ performance is beamed up on to the wall in the room where the audience are, so we can see can see the whole thing happening. Also, not only are we able to hear what Dallas is hearing, but he has a small camera attached to his head, meaning we can also see what he is seeing. Absolute virtual-reality type madness of a gig, but it works so brilliantly.

Dallas Simpson and Swimming at Lee Rosy's - photo by Dom Henry (c)
Dallas experimenting with sound - photo by Dom Henry

Swimming play two sets tonight. Their first being made up of their more regular songs that have been adapted to be more ethereal and ‘post-rock’ to suit the ambient nature of the setting, and the second set is more of a sound collage experiment that reminds me of Faust.

I had seen Swimming and Dallas do something similar at last years Dot To Dot Festival, but they had certainly put the practice in and taken it to the next level on this occassion. The music swirls around your head like you have just been hit in the head by one of the Cocteau Twins, with guitars and keyboards rushing around fighting to find space amongst the dense wall of sound, before gently floating back down to earth with dizzying euphoria.

Dallas Simpson and Swimming at Lee Rosy's - photo by Dom Henry (c)
Guitar euphoria - photo by Dom Henry

I found it best to enjoy the gig with my eyes shut, ignoring the images on the screen, and just absorbing the music. This has the effect of feeling like Alice stepping through the Looking Glass and being transported to some other dimension; the whole show capable of inducing a dream-like state.

Lee Rosy’s was absolutely rammed tonight, so much so that I’m pretty sure I must annoyed everyone who I pushed past trying to find a space near the front. It was great to see such a huge turnout for something quite experimental, but that at the same time turned in to a rather special experience.

Swimming and Dallas Simpson performed the 'headphones only' show at Lee Rosy's Tea Room on Friday 13 March 2009.

Photos courtesy of Dom Henry (c)

Swimming website

Dallas Simpson website

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