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A NIGHT WITH THE GROUNDSWELL

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After a delayed start to the evening involving a very late tram and a rainy speed-walk to The Curtin, I purchased a pint-of-the-cheapest-please and headed around the bar to get a heinously large entry stamp on my wrist. I had enough time to find a pretty good spot in the centre of the forming crowd, although I was disappointed that I had missed out on the first support act, Vollie, which I’m blaming entirely on Public Transport Victoria. I’d been excited to hear their recent single ‘Tone Changes’, but heard positive chatter from the crowd about their set. 

There must have been some technical difficulties earlier on as the second support, Erica Avenue, was late to start. This became the least of my concerns once they began as I was immediately blown away. Listening to Maisie’s (of Radio Fodder’s Chat Baker) interview with Archie and Ben from The Groundswell, I learnt that this was going to be Erica Avenue’s first ever show. The stage presence, chemistry, instruments, and voices rivalled performances from seasoned bands of the same ilk. They started the set with a cover of Rihanna’s ‘Shut Up And Drive’, channelling the same punchy guitar riffs and heavy-hitting drums as Wet Leg and Olivia Rodrigo. Throughout the set, they alternated between original songs and covers, including a version of Chappell Roan’s ‘Red Wine Supernova’ and their original song ‘Just In Case’ - absolutely my favourite of the night. The only thing that disappointed me was the fact that when I immediately searched for them on Spotify, I realised they hadn’t released anything officially yet. Fortunately, I ran into Romy and Jarrah from the band at the end of the night, and was excited to hear they were hoping to be in the studio soon.

I took advantage of the crowd moving towards the bar, moved myself to a spot almost immediately side-of-stage, and waited out the start of the set I was here for: The Groundswell. After some technical difficulties and a beer spilt down a speaker, the opening song ‘Wish You Were Dead’, the first song on their recent EP No Goodbyes, rocked the room. These mishaps didn’t affect the band though, as they moved onto a vampish cover of Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Fly Away’. Archie, the lead singer and guitarist, is a born frontman. With a swagger that emanated through each song, I chuckled to myself every time there was a dramatic step taken away from the mic after the end of a verse. However, with Paddy, Jules, and Ben providing backup vocals and incredible instrumentation, it was made abundantly clear that this was not a one-man show. From the start it was obvious that these guys are immensely talented, and have worked hard at their craft and their chemistry. Being friends from school has probably helped that too. 

Switching guitars, Archie led the crowd into ‘Too Soon, Too Late’, a nostalgia-inducing song. The crowd was captured by the compelling guitars and romantic lyrics; both aspects would shine through as strengths throughout the night. ‘Too Sweet’ by Hozier called in the second Groundswell cover of the night. Although I’m not a massive fan of this song in its original form, the band customised it to their sound so well that I didn't realise it was a cover until the chorus.

This was a common thread throughout their covers, with them amping up guitar lines and crooning to the crowd in their own style.

Following ‘Tarnish Me’, a track steeped in the powerlessness of surrendering to the decisions of someone else, was a cover of Lana Del Ray’s ‘Video Games’. As with their last, this cover was tailored to their sound to the point that it could have easily made up a part of their discography. From this point, we were in a pretty steady rhythm, alternating between original songs and covers. ‘Lover Undiscovered’, one of my favourites from the EP, highlighted more of Paddy’s vocals, as did the following cover of ‘Linger’. Paddy took centre stage and solidified himself as a valid frontman.

As I found out from the band’s Radio Fodder interview, ‘Stuck’ was one of the first songs that the band produced in the studio, documenting an infatuation at the end of the night. With its hypnotising guitar solo towards the end, The Groundswell swept us away. Next was ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, an Arctic Monkeys cover full of yet more rapid guitars that felt well-customised despite the musical similarity between the bands. 

Finally, the moment I had been waiting for all night: ‘Lonely’. The first time I listened to the EP, this song immediately stood out to me, and it was clear the rest of the audience felt the same. With sultry vocals and a thumping bassline, the floor bowed under the weight of the jumping fans in response to the questions: “Are you lonely? Are you by yourself tonight?”. An insane performance.

Announcing the EP’s titular song as the finale, Archie apologised for his faltering voice, then followed it up with yet another great vocal performance, with the rest of the band filling in the gaps where needed. The enraptured crowd screamed to a point where it seemed they would

end up in a hoarse state similar to our lead. Giving all of us some time to recover, the band mulled around the stage until an expected chant of “ONE MORE SONG” began. A chuckle rippled through the crowd and the band as they faux-reluctantly took their places again and entered the start of their actual last song. The final cover, ‘End of Beginning’ by Djo was, in fact, the end of the night.

For a band still in the early stages of performing their own shows, it is clear they have learned their lessons from their experiences supporting Jessica Mauboy and The Rions. The chemistry on stage is effortless, with a confident lead and heaps of talent to back themselves. I was originally sceptical of their choice of cover songs, what with the similarities to my TikTok FYP sounds, but they were redeemed by both the curation of their choices and the customisation of their sound. These songs were well chosen and well received by the crowd, and by the end of their last song, I felt the ache in my cheeks from singing with a smile for the entire set. The Groundswell certainly swept the crowd away with their momentous energy, and I’m excited to see what they catch in their swell in the future.

 
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