The final Swirlies show of their brief Northeast tour brought perfect NYC summer weather and a sold-out crowd to Le Poisson Rouge on 7/23/23. Swirlies have absorbed different genre labels since the band started—shoegaze, electronica, indie pop, lo-fi, etc—which is a testament to the different music stylings of band members past and present.
NYC-based W0rmh0les, led by former Swirlies member Christina Files (active 1994-1997), opened the show with a charging electronica set. Supporting her on synth was Josh Elrod. She also joined the band on stage at the end of the show to sing on a song from her era.
Frankie Rose performed songs from her 2023 release Love as Projection in front of—you guessed it—a projection screen. The direction of this album is a more melodic electronic pop, which translated well to a live performance as the crowd was swaying along to the music paired with curated visuals.
If you looked at the first few rows of the Swirlies show, you would’ve seen that most of those fans were Gen Z and many had the underage X’s on their hands. If I had to make a guess about the Gen Z fan bridging to Gen X, I’d bet on the lasting influence of recently deceased member Rob Laakso. In brief, Rob played with Kurt Vile & The Violators, Mice Parade, and the Wicked Farleys; Mike Cory and Kenny Bernard from the Wicked Farleys joined guitarist Damon Tutunjian on stage to perform the encore song “Route 2.”
The show was more than just a tribute to Rob Laakso. The bandmates played songs spanning the decades along with deep cuts as a tight unit. The takeaway from fans after the show was the hope that some sort of new material would surface since it’s been 20 years since the last album and the band chemistry is absolutely still there.
Scroll down for setlist, pics of the show (photos by Taryn Alper)
Setlist: Bell, Vigilante Always, Tall Ships, Jeremy Parker, The Vehicle Is Invisible, In Harmony New Found Freedom, Two Girls Kissing, Sounds of Sebring, Wrong Tube, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Sunn (with Christina Files), Chris R., Route 2 (Wicked Farleys cover)