Slowdive @ FYF Fest, Aug 2014
I certainly had some misgivings about seeing Slowdive at a festival. Foremost, how would their sound translate to an outdoor stage. And, secondly, middle-tier shows at festivals sometimes attract casual fans and passer-bys. If the crowd was indifferent, something would die in me. This band that I adored in my youth just being filler for the next act, ugh, no, just no. Well, I’m happy to report that I was dead wrong on both counts.
There were only a few sombre, quiet tracks on the set. Most of the songs featured Slowdive’s glorious wall-to-wall sound. It was big but not necessarily loud. Halstead’s progressively soaring crescendos always had an emotional edge, but in a live setting, with that sound engulfing the lawn, it was heart-rending. I figured seeing Slowdive live for the first time would be sufficient, but to have it delivered with such force made it incredibly satisfying and entertaining. I was pretty much focussed on Halstead and his playing was spot-on. The closing jam on Golden Hair was definitely the highlight.
Concert demographics have always fascinated me. Who makes up the fanbase? Well, Slowdive followed two contemporary acts; Real Estate and Little Dragon, and in my casual, non-scientific estimation I would say the average age actually dropped for Slowdive. Sure there were smattering of us bearded, balding geezers. But mostly we were swamped by millenials. And you could see in their eyes and the buzz, that this iconic, cult English band actually about to play in front of them was nothing short of a miracle. And…, we moshed to When The Sun Hits and Alison. Surreal but good fun. I suppose the energy had to go somewhere.
In their day, the critical and popular reception to Souvlaki and Pygmalion was mixed at best. The tide was shifting towards Britpop and grunge. For this band to reunite 20 years later and have such a young, thriving worldwide fanbase must be bittersweet and affirming. Also their widespread influence on today’s music scene is remarkable, certainly not something I would have anticipated back then.
Thankfully they are returning in the fall and playing much larger venues than they could have ever imagined and, of course, it comes with my highest recommendation. Shout out to the stranger who diligently compiled this set list and I pestered him to email to me.
- Avalyn I
- Catch the Breeze
- Crazy For You
- Machine Gun
- Souvlaki Space Station
- When the Sun Hits
- She Calls
- Golden Hair