Swervedriver at the Fillmore (review)

We watched Film School’s set and I’ve come away with the same impression every time. I won’t go into very many details but the mix is funky. It makes you miss key elements that help distinguish the melody of the songs. My guess is that the lead guitar is mixed too low. The poor guy wails away at it for 45 minutes, so for his sake we should be able to hear the damn thing more clearly!

Swervedriver impressed me. For a band who is known for a “wall of sound” and for being one of the big shoegaze bands of the 90s, their sound is very clean live. Especially in contrast to Film School, whom they influenced. You can easily distinguish the guitar playing, which I really didn’t expect. It has a more bluesy feel live, which is incredibly different than Film School’s performance.

Watching Adam Franklin play the guitar is mesmerizing. It’s not incredibly technical or difficult, but his phrasing and feel is outstanding. I have never thought this before but it reminded me of the late Chris Whitley. I saw Chris Whitley play once (or was it twice?) back in the mid 90s at The Bottom of the Hill. It took me a couple songs to place what Adam’s sound and playing style reminded me of but Chris Whitley was the name I was fishing for. He died of lung cancer in 2005 from many years of smoking.

Then it occurred to me that I saw Lush at the Fillmore in the 90s. Lush celebrated their drummer’s birthday that night. They brought out an Elvis impersonator too. A month later (more or less), the drummer killed himself.

So this made me realize how fortunate we were to be standing there watching a full on Swervedriver reunion, with all members enjoying themselves, along with the rest of the Fillmore.

Swervedriver - Sandblasted

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2 thoughts on “Swervedriver at the Fillmore (review)”

  1. here are some scattered thoughts.

    Film School –
    i forget how many solid songs this band has…i listened to them on my way back to the east bay last night. great late night SF driving music. maybe it’s just me, but i would LOVE to hear the song 11-11 mixed like the album…just once. i’m sure they’ve played the song so many times they feel like they need to mix it up some, but to me the guitar licks *guide* the listener through the song, and they are non-existent in both live versions i’ve heard.

    SWD-
    the mix was decent, though the vocals could have been upped some…I found myself straining to hear adam at times.

    there is no flash to this band. no jumping around, no ‘show’ to speak of. once i realized there would be none of that, i closed my eyes much of the time to hear the music better. with Film School, i couldn’t decipher where one guitar started and the other ended, while i could hear each of SWD’s guitars seperately, and appreciate how they complemented each other.

    SWD has a solid, very deliberate delivery. at the outset, i found myself wanting them to crank it up and play it faster/harder/louder. as the set progressed, i adjusted, and began to appreciate the songwriting. nothing was rushed, each song felt centered, and the interplay of the guitars emerged more.

    it wasn’t a dynamic show, though each member of the band, at one time or another, seemed like they dug into a song a little deeper.

    i left before the end of the set, but got goosebumps when they played ‘never lose that feeling’. this happens rarely these days, and tells me a few of SWD’s songs will always be some of my favorites ever written.

  2. Yeah, exactly! On Film School’s track “11:11”, it sounds like the main guitar part is just plain missing from the live performance. Instead it sounds a bit like a mess. It’s been that way each time I’ve seen them. (3 or 4 times)

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