Wednesday 23 February 2011

Gig - Swervedriver/Giants Of Science/Loomer, The Zoo 17.02.11

It’s a small crowd gathered at the Zoo at eight o’clock. This is my first time back to the Zoo since coming back to Brisbane, and the rush of nostalgia is a welcome rush. I love the fact that in a city that loves to refurbish the fuck out of anything minutely good until it looks like a futuristic bedpan, the dinginess, gallon drum tables and work-healthplace-and-safety-defying ceiling fans of the Zoo is a true testament to owners and supporters that relish the right things about music, and intend it keep that way...

A few people turn up early to catch Loomer, Brisbane’s progeny to the shoegaze, no-wave gods (I mean, look at the name - come on!), and they don’t muck around, launching into tracks from their recent LP Ceiling. They have some difficulty reining in their sound – much of the reverb-heavy effects bleed into each other – but there is some brute strength behind these songs. The cyclical verve that infuses their penultimate track is probably the true indication of what Loomer are capable of. This is further highlighted by the drummer’s frenetic skin bashing, unwittingly forced centre stage by the small confines. ‘Shit, they’re good aren’t they?’ is uttered behind me – a sentiment that Im sure will grow throughout 2011.

Loomer - Enchanted by The Big Beat

If the crowd – mid 20s to late 40s – isn’t enough to remind everyone of the main act’s genesis, then the next support does the trick. Giants Of Science have lain dormant for years – hell, the last time I saw them, the Healer still existed! – yet this unabashedly Swervedriver-loving hard rock band show no wear or tear, ripping into their back catalogue like they have just finished headlining a festival tour. Drawing mainly from last album Here Is The Punishment, the boys prove that they are still lean, hungry, and know this rock business inside out. They rock, laugh, drink, and give a shout out to another much-missed Brisbane band, the KT26s. Now, if they could only get some more beers into them…

Yet despite this lead up, the excitement is palpable. Its been a long time coming - 13 years in fact – but when they do emerge, Swervedriver don’t waste any time asserting their authority, sound as relevant now as they ever have. Sci-Flyer swirls, double helixing guitars ricocheting around the room, Adam Franklin’s croon the stuff of legends. Meshing the slack sonics of Dinosaur Jr with the wall of sound of stable mates My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver’s sound tonight is crisp and electrifying – Jim Hartridge handles his myriad pedals with laconic grace, Steve George providing the backbone and Graham Bonnar back behind the drums, fusing the band together into an organic beast. They move through much of their entire back catalogue – songs from Mezcal Head and Raise dominate, yet Juggernaut Rides takes us to their early EPs; Scrawl & Scream and the excellent Neon Lights Glow showing even their B-sides aren’t off limits tonight. There is little interaction or banter from the Oxford four-piece, but that just adds to the atmosphere – every person is in thrall to the sonic brilliance on display. Personal favourites Girl On A Motorbike and She Weaves A Tender Trap are highlights, but you could take your pick really - there is not a dud song here tonight. Its been 13 long years, and 90 minutes of glorious guitar abandon and meticulously executed pop songs is not enough to fill that void. Nevertheless, Swervedriver assert the notion that they don’t build 'em like they used to – and the music world is all the poorer because of it.

Swervedriver - Girl On A Motorbike

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