LIVE: Can’t Swim / Save Face / Coast To Coast @ The Borderline, London

By Renette van der Merwe

It’s Tuesday night and the weather is dreary. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it’s a write off… but you do and it isn’t, because tonight, Can’t Swim headline a sold-out Borderline. So you make your way down the stairs and into the already buzzing basement venue anticipating that, unlike the weather outside, this’ll be anything but dull.

It’s hazy, and some song you like but won’t remember in the morning is playing in the background, until it cuts out to give way to Midland pop punk band, Coast To Coast. Vocalist Kieran Hyland’s voice makes the band all the more reminiscent of Lower Than Atlantis and with the latter stepping down, Coast to Coast prove themselves more than capable of filling that space. ‘Cold Buzz’ is their most earnest song and a true reflection of the great potential of this five-piece.

New Jerseyans Save Face are up next and the intensity of their set immediately amplifies the energy in the room. They’re playing a rich mix of songs, including tracks from their 2018 release ‘Merci’, showing vocal range, skilled musicianship and intelligent songwriting. Their atmospheric guitar solos feel like a physical force, reaching out to hold you in the moment as sound waves crash all around.

Then we wait. We talk about how excited we are to see Can’t Swim, wonder which songs they’ll play and whether can be trusted. We talk about their 2018 Slam Dunk set and how the band came about,and when the lights finally dim we stop talking, because this is the moment we all came for.

From the opening gallop of ‘What Have We Done?’, Can’t Swim look every bit like a band built for this, dominating the small stage with both presence and musical prowess. They’re going hard, threatening the speakers with dangerous levels of distortion and the crowd’s loving it.

Vocalist Chris LoPorto moves around with a casual assurance, breezing through ‘My Queen’, ‘Your Clothes’, ‘All The Moves We Make Are In The Dark’ and more songs from across their rock solid discography. His voice is as strong as it is on their records and it’s visible that the rest of the band are just as accomplished at their craft.

‘sometimes you meet the right people at the wrong times’ also makes an appearance on the setlist alongside ‘$50 000’ and breakthrough single ‘Stranger’. There’s no fan favourite, because every single song is a crowd pleaser that speaks to the troubled, the heartbroken and the lonely. That is the beauty of Can’t Swim; besides their exceptional ability to set the mood with haunting vocals and instrumentation, their biggest trump card lies with introspective lyricism that fans can relate to.

The set finishes and echoes of ‘Stranger’ fill Borderline as fans continue humming the tune as they leave – because unlike that song you knew you’d forget by the morning, tonight will stay with you until the next time Can’t Swim are in town.