Photo by Ingrid Pop
2023 seems to be the year of finally seeing bands I've been a fan of for decades but have just never seen. The latest on that list was Slowdive. The shoegaze legends played a show earlier this week at the House of Blues that sold out almost instantaneously. It was a strange night on Lansdowne St, with lines for Slowdive and Boygenius all the way down the street to Brookline Ave. The wait to get into the venue felt as long as my wait to see Slowdive, so would it be worth the wait?
Simply put... yes. And then some. Slowdive have been doing this for a long time, and they have mastered their genre and performing live. It's kind of a joke that shoegaze bands are boring live since they don't put on any show besides just standing there. Anyone who has ever told that joke has never seen Slowdive. Sure, they didn't jump around on stage, but they had the all ages crowd in the palm of their hand as soon as they played their first note. Singer Rachel Goswell stated that the crowd was quiet after their second song. It was because we were all enraptured and waiting for more.
Despite just releasing the stellar everything is alive earlier this month, Slowdive mostly stuck with the classics. They did play four songs from the new album, but a song like "prayers remembered" fit in seemlessly with the long beloved songs. Despite being a fan for decades, I felt like a casual fan or a poseur at this show, as the House of Blues was packed with two thousand plus absolute die hards. What was shocking to me was how young so many of the most vocal fans were. By the time "When teh Sun Hits" came around, the crowd went absolutely nuts and had more cell phones out than I've seen at a Paul McCartney show. Teenagers in Slowdive shirts screamed along to every word, and I don't think I've been able to memorize a single word for Slowdive in the twenty plus years I've been listening. One fan screamed out "This is the best night of my life!" between songs, and judging on the reaction of the crowd, a lot of them shared his feelings.
Drab Majesty opened the show. They're a band I know more by name, but they might have been the perfect style of band to open the show. Playing as a duo with guitar and keyboards, they combine shoegaze with a more New Wave style heavy on synths. They were teeth shaking loud, and I have no idea how anyone not wearing earplugs dealt with the sheer volume. They had a My Bloody Valentine meets The Human League thing going on, which is a sound that worked shockingly well. They definitely brought their own fanbase to the House of Blues Monday night, and no one was left disappointed by their opening set.