Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Slowdive Played Brooklyn Steel with Japanese Breakfast, 5/8/17

Photo: Allyson Dwyer

New Songs, New Venue

by Allyson Dwyer

Three years ago, on a Saturday night in Manhattan, I saw Slowdive at Terminal 5. The night has since remained a benchmark in my memory for how much I fucking hate going to concerts in New York. At least, large general admission concerts where you pay so much to feel so uncomfortable.

So, only the return of Slowdive, with a their first new album in a long ass time, could bring me back; and on a Monday night no less.

Slowdive played at the brand new, baby-faced Brooklyn Steel, a venue so cool it has no signs. It's literally an old steel factory. As waves of young, gorgeous youth and aging hipsters lined up for security, regular ol' Brooklyn residents -- aka "normies" -- would drive by and stop to ask what was going on.

As I waited for my friends, I realized, with a slight bit of arrogant joy, that the majority of the people coming in were young, and -- more importantly -- short. Flashback to the fated Slowdive show of 2014: It was like going to Hoboken on a Saturday night. Wine moms and strange, tall men in dress shirts abounded. No offense to any readers right now, but the crowd was just insufferable. I don't think they realized a concert was going on.

Somehow, the people my age were more hardcore about Slowdive than the older crowd at the Terminal 5 show. As I would soon see throughout the night, people were calm, respectful, and excited to see the band on the stage. Throughout the night, people would yell, "Thank you for playing that song!" "You guys are great!" "Rock 'n roll!!!" Slowdive was as endeared to the audience as we were to them.

Anyway, more on the venue: As you walk in, the first thing that catches your attention is the detail. The only other place I can think of that puts that amount of detail into transporting you to a "place" is Disney World. And, honestly, I fucking love Disney World. The venue was just so cool. The atmosphere is laid back. The place is gigantic, so you don't feel uncomfortable. The bathroom is a dream -- endless clean stalls and no line. I promise I don't work for Bowery Presents. This is my honest opinion. And, maybe most importantly, I should mention, the sound was fantastic.

I got in just in time for Japanese Breakfast, a band I've been dying to see since I fell in love with their debut, Pyschopomp. Michelle Zauner was an electric force of energy and joy as she switched between personas of shoegaze rocker and frontperson to a band that was 100% her project and vision. She played a number of new songs from her upcoming new album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, including its first single, "Machinist"

I first listened to "Machinist" on Spotify and was taken aback. Not only is it a bit removed from her initial shoegaze (it's incredibly poppy), but Michelle also sings through a vocoder. I liked it, but I didn't like it, if that makes sense. Anyway, she ended her set with it; and, as I watched her perform it, it clicked with me instantly. Michelle introduced it as a "love story with robots" and proceeded to perform her heart out, and I guess it was just so infectious to watch her excitedly perform this song. The entire room loved it.

So after a long-ish wait (I should mention the venue's bizarre choice to keep the place practically lights out throughout the whole night) and making some new friends in the crowd, Slowdive crept out onto the stage, opening with "Slommo," which is the first song off their new album and my most favorite of the new songs. Of the new songs, they also played their first two singles, "Star Roving" and "Sugar For The Pill," and the track "No Longer Making Time." Of a sixteen song set, it was definitely strange to find only four of the songs performed from a new release, especially because the entire album is incredible and I would've loved to have heard more of them live.

Photo: Allyson Dwyer

But of course they played the classics, a comprehensive and perfectly curated selection of their best songs from their first three albums; and they sounded flawless doing so. "Catch The Breeze" stood out to me as an older song that really blossomed when heard live. The crowd anxiously waited for songs like "When The Sun Hits" and "40 Days." I could listen to Neal sing "Dagger" on repeat, forever.

There were a number of technical difficulties -- especially for Neal Halstead, who at one point stopped singing during "Alison" and had a couple of false-starts on songs. He kept apologizing, and the crowd would yell out that they still sounded great. They could do no wrong. The band held the audience's attention, even as they closed with their cover of Syd Barrett's "Golden Hair." After Rachel Goswell sang her verse, she walked offstage, leaving the remainder of the band to build an explosive, harmonic ending that left my ears humming.

A majority of the songs during the show I also heard when they played Terminal 5. But it felt different this time. Maybe because, then, they had just reunited and were getting back into their groove. Maybe because I was less flustered by the environment around me. This time felt special -- as if Slowdive themselves were excited for the world to see their new-found joy and happiness. We all felt it.

1 comment :

  1. Great review. You're an excellent writer and expressed my views totally. Especially about this gorgeous new venue and hearing this gorgeous band. Thanks!