L.A.’s psych-indie-pop group SWIMM is the collaboration between Chris Hess and Adam Winn. The duo brought their project from Florida to California and have since embraced the opposing sunshine state that they now call home. With the recent release of their second EP, Beverly Hells, Hess’ dad (who flew in from Florida) in attendance and a tightly packed room, SWIMM’s headlining show was a sensory and auditory overload for the Echo’s enthusiastic audience.
Upon entering the venue and after meeting Adam Winn (drums) and Chris Hess (vocals/guitar), I gazed with wonder at the decorations in the empty room while the public waited outside. Some of SWIMM’s live shows have walls plastered in shiny reflective paper and visual projections distorting the background. The columns at the Echo were wrapped up like a gift that enticed the crowd to swipe for their own décor. The band also posted flyers around the facility featuring a scene of Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally and a glamour shot of Kelly McGuiness (Top Gun).
Hess and Winn raced around the room placing small and large doll-sized figures wrapped in aluminum paper on the stage and between equipment in preparation of the night’s show. “We would go all out and decorate the place and make it a crazy psychedelic space-bubble with projections and try to make it a crazy party to remember”, Hess recalls. “We got so lucky when we were asked to do a residency in January, which was such a huge honor because being from Florida and coming here, this was the first place I saw a show in L.A. I remember thinking, ‘Holy crap we get to do a residency here?’ All of my favorite bands have done that.”
“And who are some of those favorite bands?” I ask curiously. “Grizzly Bear, Radiohead— oh, and LCD Soundsystem! They’ve all influenced us musically and lyrically.”
A prolific lyricist, Hess has a particularly personal connection to the sunny-pop song “Belly” off SWIMM’s Beverly Hells EP. The song was written about three different people Hess knew back home and how they never reached their full potential due to their vices. One of the people Hess wrote about came to see SWIMM at their hometown show. “One of those lines in ‘Belly’ is about a crazy car accident that he was a part of. He hadn’t heard the song yet but when he did, he ran up to the front at that last line and he knew that that lyric was about him. Since then, he’s cried to me because he knows that lyric is about him.”
SWIMM’s music has morphed recently with the addition of a bass, guitar, and keyboards. That unfiltered grungy and psychedelic sound from the instruments came to life at the Echo. Following openers Golden Suns and Moon Honey’s phenomenal performances, the crowd saw members of Golden Suns (Chase and Weston Meier) filling in the roles with SWIMM’s two piece. The group has mastered the beats that forced patrons to dance about the floor, keeping the energy at a steady 11.