Swear and Shake push indie folk into NYC’s rock clubs

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Swear and Shake played New York’s DROM on Oct. 10.

Folk-leaning tunes are definitely a rarity in a rock-laden local New York music scene. For an indie folk band without label ties to stick around the city playing local haunts, develop a following and begin to catch national breaks is something not to be overlooked.

This year brought their biggest opportunities yet, supporting alt rock/funk act G. Love and Special Sauce on a month-and-a-half-long tour and securing festival slots at New York’s Governors Ball and Mountain Jam in June.

Locally Amped caught Swear and Shake at DROM, a swanky Lower East Side club, three years after vocalists Kari Spieler and Adam McHeffey met in a SUNY Purchase bedroom in the waning months of their college career. Since, they have played countless stages across the country and in New York, including Bowery Ballroom and Knitting Factory.

Their first show since recording sessions over the summer for the follow-up to 2011’s “Maple Ridge” was an intimate affair, complete with lots of bantering and tales of what the band had been up to this past summer. They played a combination of tracks from their debut as well as their upcoming album to a small crowd of devoted followers.

Their sing-songy, melodic cuts call to mind the sort of folk rock that brought The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons commercial success. Weighing in on the resurgence of this style, McHeffey says that he’s “not sure why it’s happening the way it did. But there’s definitely a rediscovery of that style of writing.”

They’re the sort of band that can whip out a banjo without missing a beat. A quick chat revealed that they’re up for trying anything. “We’re all excited to get out on the road again. We’re looking forward to another Dungeons & Dragons campaign. We decided (at the beginning of touring) that we were going to play it on tour, and we’ve played three campaigns,” says Spieler.

There’s a spectrum of local band “tiers,” ranging from bar bands to those on the verge of hitting the national stage. After a headlining performance, a post-show hang with the band and a glance into their devoted fan base, it’s clear that Swear and Shake in the latter category.

Watch a video for their recent single “Brother” below. Swear and Shake play Boston on Friday night at Church. 

This column is part of a Metro Boston and New York music feature called Locally Amped. Follow us on Twitter @LocallyAmped and on Facebook at Locally Amped.


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