Basking in the warm glow of Slowdive’s first headlining show in Los Angeles since before the band broke up in 1995, one question was inescapable – how did these guys sound good?
It helps that they’ve had plenty of warm-up gigs. After long-gestating rumors of a reunion tour finally came true this year, Slowdive hit the circuit playing the world’s finest Indie Rock festivals, like Barcelona’s Primavera Sound, Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, and Los Angeles’ own FYF. It gave the shoegaze pioneers an opportunity to reconnect with all of their old fans, as well as the many more fans they’ve gained in the past nineteen years.
Their 50-minute set at FYF was my favorite of that weekend, so good that all I needed to hear was the first snare hit to know I was in for something really, really great.
Slowdive was just as really, really great on Saturday night, but this time they were aided by a lot of factors. Now more in their element with an indoor show, Slowdive had the privilege of playing the gorgeous, newly remodeled Theatre at Ace Hotel. This old house has the class and glamour of many of the other old movie temples on Broadway, but it also has a borderline-disturbing organic decor that makes the walls look alive. And with opener Low’s fantastic set, the baseline of the night was set at comfortable but intense – a perfect starting point for the headliner to explode from.
Perhaps the best factor for the show was the most elementary – the sound. Shoegaze is a genre full of gorgeous whirring that can build to create impossibly intense walls – nay, monoliths – of sound. But if it’s not mixed right, it can also sound like disorganized noise. Slowdive never approached that issue, their guitar tones were distinguishable and able to stack on top of each other right up to the roof of the very tall venue. The clarity and strength of the mix was good enough that I felt obligated to compliment the guys behind the sound boards at the end of the night.
Was there anything about the night that wasn’t incredible? Well, with only three albums to their name, Slowdive only played about ninety minutes of material. But if new rumors play out, they might have new music to play at their next LA show. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait until the 2030s for it.