Swervedriver, the Swayback and Life and Times Friday, May 23, 2008 The Marquis, Denver Better Than: Way too many guitar rock bands of the last decade and a half.
With talk of how latecomer tickets were going for upwards of a hundred dollars for Swervedriver's show in New York City, Denver fans got the deal of the year at fifteen dollars to see the legendary band at a small venue like The Marquis. Early in the show, it looked as though the turnout would be relatively small as it had been in Omaha the night before, but the initially small crowd swelled to the back of the room by the time Swervedriver hit the stage.
The Swayback opened the show in typical fashion, offering very little meaningless stage banter in favor of expertly playing a solid set that included some of its best material: “Forewarned,” “Concrete Blocks” and “What a Pity.” The outfit seems to be coming out of its dance punk phase into something more sonically adventurous right now. Though, truth be told, the bass lines have always been compelling.
Kansas City’s Life and Times claimed the middle slot with its Sunny Day Real Estate-esque emo-gaze, which combines the more musically interesting era of emo with atmospheric sounds. The mix, whether in the room or within the band, muddied the band's songs a bit with far too much low end, which prevented the guitar from weaving the sort of atmospherics and swirl for which it seemed to be aiming.
Without little preamble, Swervedriver took the stage and set about to rocking for a solid hour or more. The intricacies of the band's guitar dynamics were a little difficult to pick out, but the band performed each song flawlessly. Adam Franklin’s unexpectedly beautiful vocals were mixed well and could be heard well above the fury of Jez Hindmarsh’s mind bogglingly proficient drumming and the incandescent, interwoven layers of guitar. (Hindmarsh hit his drums so hard he actually broke two snares during the show.)
What was most impressive about the show, beyond the quiet grace of the band’s stage presence, was how the act created such a huge sound with an admirable level of economy in both its songwriting and technique. A lot of guitarists show off to impress themselves and other guitar geeks, but the focus of Swervedriver's players is on writing good songs. Even though the band played a full set, it was obvious that the crowd wanted more so here’s to hoping for their rapid return.
-- Tom Murphy
Personal Bias: Shoegaze bands are near and dear to my heart. Random Detail: Bassist Steve George wore a promotional Dig! t-shirt. By the Way: Adam Franklin has a side project with Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino called The Setting Suns.
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