“We missed you guys!”
Those were the words that greeted Oxford alternative rock band Swervedriver when they took the stage at Horseshoe Tavern this past Wednesday night as part of this year’s CMW showcase. Swervedriver are on tour in North America this spring in support of their latest album I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, which is their first release in nearly 17 years.
Back in the ‘90s, Swervedriver were a part of the British shoegazing scene, a genre of music that combined hushed vocals with loud and distorted guitars. Their first three albums were released by Creation Records, which was home to other prominent shoegaze bands of that era such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride, and The Jesus and Mary Chain. But unlike some of their contemporaries in the shoegaze scene, Swervedriver also took some of their musical cues from the American grunge scene and other general “alternative rock” from the ‘90s, which made them a bit harder to define and perhaps garnered them a more diverse fanbase.
Never was this more apparent than during their set at the Horseshoe. The audience seemed evenly split between the more traditional type of laid-back shoegaze fans who were just there to take in the music, paired with a more rowdy and rambunctious pack of (mostly male) fans who spent the majority of the set moshing, stage diving, and spilling beer on anyone who happened to be standing in their vicinity. It was an interesting contrast, and at times it seemed like the band themselves didn’t know what to make of it. Nevertheless, they played a solid two hour set consisting of 17 songs, both from their latest album as well as some old favourites such as “Rave Down,” “The Birds,” “Son of a Mustang Ford” and “Never Lose That Feeling.” After leaving the stage briefly, they returned for a three song encore that included a new track called “Everso”, and two songs from their 1993 album Mezcal Head, starting with an extended and very psychedelic rendition of “Last Train to Satanville” and ending with fan-favourite “Duel,” which had many people in the audience singing along enthusiastically. It was a true testament to the fact that even if a band is gone for 17 years, they will still be remembered if they make great songs.