Shoegaze PIONEERS and legends, Slowdive kicked off Shaky Knees 2017 weekend by taking over the at capacity Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points on May 11, 2017.
Slowdive first formed in Reading, England in 1989, releasing their first EP in 1990. The band released their debut LP, Just for a Day in 1991 as the term shoegaze became a thing referring to bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine that had abrasive guitars and ethereal vocals. With the rise of grunge around the same time as shoegaze was coming up, there seemed to be a backlash to the term and the type of music. The band would go on to release two more albums, Souvlaki (1993) and Pygmalion (1995) before breaking up and moving onto other projects.
While most of the band members have kept in the music industry over the last 20 years, the legend of Slowdive continued to grow in the underground, influencing a long list of modern music since their humble beginnings. In 2014, Slowdive reunited to play Primavera Sound Festival and more festivals and tour dates. Last year, Shaky Knees 2016 got a big addition by adding Slowdive to the festival’s lineup as one of the only North American tour dates.
This year, Slowdive returned to Shaky Knees, playing the kickoff show at Variety Playhouse the night before the fest began, just over a year after their set at last year’s fest. This year though, the band returned to Atlanta with their first new album in over two decades, the self titled album Slowdive, released on May 5th via Dead Oceans. The band left no doubt on the stage that night that Slowdive is back, and as good as ever. The band’s newest album fit perfectly in their setlist mixed in with choice career spanning cuts. The effervescent guitars and moody vocals sang from wall to wall at Variety Playhouse as the trance inducing light show lulled the whole audience into one unit, there completely immersed into Slowdive and their music.
Not only was this a continued reunion for Slowdive, but this was also a reunion of sorts throughout the audience, as the crowd members got away from their kids and met up with other old fans ready to geek out on 90’s underground bands. Yet it wasn’t just purely an older crowd of 90’s music scene vets, the crowd was mixed with plenty of folks from the younger generation there to see a piece of history, where some of their modern music got their influences, and to see a great band with an incredible new album still every bit on top of their game despite the long absence. Not only did the cuts like “Catch The Breeze”, “Slowdive”, and their Syd Barrett cover “Golden Hair” excite the audience, tracks from the new album like “Star Roving”, “Sugar for the Pill” and “Slomo” really popped on the Variety Playhouse stage that night.
It’s hard to explain how being their live in person really was, the guitars were loud and soaring, yet the music provides a calm to your demeanor where you can’t help but be wrapped into what’s happening on stage. Slowdive’s music press all of your emotional buttons, there is a calm, an anger, a beauty, a thrill, and leaves you with a chill running through your veins, this was certainly a show that leaves a lasting impression for weeks. Slowdive hasn’t lost their touch at all, instead they’ve cemented themselves as longstanding legends.
Savannah’s The Casket Girls opened up the show for Slowdive, proving to be not only the perfect compliment to Slowdive, but just as deserving to be in the headlining spot. The Casket Girls are Savannah sisters, Phaedra and Elsa Greene, and Ryan Graveface (Graveface Records, Dreamend, etc). While the sisters are said to be quite reclusive, on stage the sisters come alive, with almost matching outfits and sunglasses, letting the sisters combine their collective strength into one live and on stage. The group brings a kind of artistic goth pop sound with their own brand of ethereal and an amazing drummer live, all capped by the sisters harmonizing singing and in sync dance moves and stage presence.
For a minute there, watching their set as the two sisters took the opportunity to each draw a picture while singing as one, I forgot I was even at a Slowdive show. I was lost in what was happening on stage and the gorgeous sounds the band was soaring throughout Variety Playhouse felt as though we were all only there to see The Casket Girls. To say the band was great would be an understatement, it’s rare to be so excited for a headliner, only to get that lost in the opener. I had never personally gotten to see The Casket Girls yet, though through their 3 LPs released via Graveface Records (Including last year’s Night Machines), I had always wanted to catch the group live. While most of the audience was also their for Slowdive, all the talking and catching up that was occurring before the show started quit as soon as The Casket Girls came on, as the group enamored the audience alongside me.
A lessor opener couldn’t have quieted down this reunion show audience, but The Casket Girls are a force live and proved to be a hell of a compliment to the shoegaze legends. The Casket Girls and Slowdive, now that’s a hell of a kickoff to what would be Shaky Knees 2017!
Check out Mike Gerry‘s photo gallery from the show below, along with the setlist, and some video from the show: