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Far more than just a TikTok band- The Backseat Lovers at SWX Bristol

That's right, Bath Time is a lover of The Backseat Lovers.

Do you ever wonder what it might be like to have a culmination of years of hard work taken from you and cropped into a minute of audio on a social media platform? If you have, then welcome to the reality of the Backseat lovers. The Australian alternative rock group, formed in 2018, has come to the forefront of many fans’ eyes on TikTok, through their notorious ‘Kilby Girl’ track. As of March 2022, this track has amassed more streams on Spotify than the rest of the band’s music put together. Whilst this may perpetuate an image of a TikTok birthed one hit wonder band, to any fan who has experienced The Backseat Lovers live, including myself, they are far more. 

First of all, it is important to provide a shootout to The Backseat Lovers warmup act, Junodream. With the aesthetic of the windows logo, a lead vocalist that looks uncannily like Paul Mescal whilst giving off a Chris Martin persona, Junodream conveyed a profound strain of Radiohead, Coldplay and Spiritualized. I can humbly say that they were incredible, and I now count myself as a Junodream stan.  

It was at the point that later, in the spirit of nominal determinism, The Backseat Lovers came on, and oh boy did my greatest nightmare materialise (and don’t worry, this is out of my great love for their music). They played both ‘Pool House’ and ‘Growing/Dying’ to rapturous applause, however being perhaps my favourite two tracks originating from their oeuvre I was left in the ultimate flabbergasting conundrum in which I realised my night, and also lif- ok I would not go that far, had already peaked, and what would next arrive around the gig corner could be somewhat less. As pathetic as this sounds (yes, I know the world does not revolve around my music tastes), I can say, in the name of journalistic integrity, that I was left within this spirit. 

This did not last for long, however. Backseat Lovers next performed two tracks from their earlier discography, ‘Pictures’ and ‘Heavy’, Arms were swaying not unlike airport staff at the beginning of a runway. ‘Heavy’, a dream rock ballad, was heavily appreciated by the crowd, and ironically this tune pulled the lingering weight around my aforementioned gigging anxieties off my chest. The band next performed ‘Kilby Girl’ and interestingly I would not say this piece was more heavily acknowledged than the other tracks within this set. Perhaps this is an indication that those attending Backseat Lovers gigs are more devoted than the one song slags that internet statistics denote the presence of.  ‘Watch your Mouth’ was next performed, a track I believe is so heavily in the spirit of both ‘Pool House’ and ‘Kilby Girl’ that the two latter tracks cast a shadow over the former. The vibes were heavily appreciated however, in which they then moved on to ‘know your name’ a track embedded within more traditional rock roots, further embedded with ‘slowing down’- both tracks originating from their most recent album. ‘Know your name’ evokes a strong sense of certain themes such as empowerment and a feeling of being reborn, as well as being what one may consider a powerful allegory of the search for self-expression. ‘Slowing down’ is a reflective song in the spirit of Brian Eno’s ‘always returning’, and I believe illustrates the intention of the Backseat Lovers for their music to be constructive, to mend rather than inflict, and I am sure that many left with more than they came with. 

Arguably the greatest surprise of the evening occurred during the encore, in which lead vocalist and guitarist Joshua Armon, performed a solo rendition of ‘Snowbank Blues’ that was quite beautiful and passionately received. Any one hit wonder bogeymen should take hint at the way in which the crowd appraised this performance. Backseat Lovers ended the set with ‘Sinking Ship’, in which my friend, renowned Burnley fan club member and Uni of Bath student George Poole described as ‘euphoric’, a song that ‘’takes all the darkness from your soul and let’s everyone scream out their worries and doubts’’.    

Overall, it could be said that the name ‘The Backseat Lovers’ half, and half-not, defines the way in which as a band they will move forward. On the one hand, they will, in my opinion at least, be at the forefront, rather than the ‘Backseat’, of the musical arena for years to come. However, this is because they have many ‘lovers’, your humble critic included amongst them. One thing of note would be that Backseat Lovers have always projected an afternoon delight aura around them, and personally I feel like SWX with its dark, brooding atmosphere minorly took away from the experience. This is also my way of saying that I would love to see them perform a sunset acoustic set at the crescent or the Alexandra Park viewpoint. Let’s see what the tomorrow brings.  

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