Live Review: Swervedriver @ the Roxy, 3/5

Published by Ian T. McFarland on


When Swervedriver reunited in 2008 after ten years apart, a lot of people expected the English alternative band to follow the typical trajectory – embark on a glorious reunion tour around the world, then dive right into the studio to put together a reformation record.  That more or less happened with Swervedriver, with one major exception – it took almost seven years from their first reunion show to finish and release that new record.  Lucky for us, it was worth the wait.

I Wasn’t Born To Lose You, Swervedriver’s fifth album that was released just two days before their recent show at the Roxy, has been long anticipated and managed not to disappoint.  When the band released the first single, Setting Sun, earlier this year, it was clear that not only had the band not atrophied, but that they had grown and followed a new direction that toed the line perfectly between keeping their general sound but not trying to recreate the band in its 90s berth.

Accordingly, they found themselves playing Los Angeles at a venue so packed with people, it was barely possible to walk along the back of the venue.  After an opening set from Gateway Drugs that perfectly revved up the audience but remained chill enough to fit in with Swervedriver’s somewhat-sedated sound, the headliner calmly walked on stage and got right to business.

Unfortunately, the venue didn’t uphold its side of the event.  The sound at the Roxy is always muddled, and that became particularly, and painfully apparent, during Swervedriver’s set.  This is a band that, like so many other 90s rockers, tosses so much guitar tone so highly on top of everything else that if something’s not right, it starts to sound messy.  From the back of the venue, the sound was so dirty as to render the music’s strengths as moot.  I could recognize the songs, but it didn’t sound like Swervedriver.

So how good is Swervedriver live?  Having only seen them at the Roxy, it’s hard for me to say.  But for the first time in seventeen years, at least I can say I know that a new Swervedriver album sounds good.

Ian T. McFarland

Ian started getting into music in his Kansas middle school, when he thought that owning a blink-182 CD made him better than all of his classmates. His first concert was Keane, but he doesn't like to admit it. When he's not reviewing concerts, he spends more time at the movies than is healthy. He lives in Los Angeles and works full time editing video.


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