Published May 06, 2015Canada has always had an affinity for Swervedriver, as bands like Mystery Machine and SIANspheric have built their craft around the sound of the Oxford shoegazers. That may be why, when booking their North American tour, Swervedriver included oft-overlooked locales like London, Hamilton and Ottawa.
Seven years since they announced their reunion, the Swervies visited Zaphod Beeblebrox for a Tuesday night performance. Opening the show was Ottawa's PINE, a young band weaned on '90s emo, indie and dream pop. Filling Zaphod's with waves of layered noise, thanks to the band's triple-guitar wail and singer Darlene Deschamps' dramatic vocals, PINE made up for their lack of subtlety with a dazzling wall of sonic bliss.
Next up, Gateway Drugs brought their black leather and vintage instruments to the stage for a heavily stylized and raucous set. Made up of the Knack's Prescott Niles' two sons and daughter, the L.A. four-piece crunched through a tight set of psychedelic garage rock that found guitarists Liv and Noa, along with drummer Gabe, trading off vocal duties.
Seventeen years after their breakup, Swervedriver graciously greeted the crowd before launching into "Autodidact" from their latest LP, I Wasn't Born to Lose You. Giving the crowd an excellent cross-section of their catalogue, including deep-cuts like "MM Abduction," "These Times" and "The Birds," founding members Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge looked absolutely giddy while bashing their racks and racks of guitar pedals, as new drummer Mikey Jones' (filling in for the departed Jez Hindmarsh) Bonham-esque pounding helped give tracks like "For Seeking Heat," "Rave Down" and "Son of Mustang Ford" an added textural urgency.
Returning to the stage for a three-song encore that featured new track "Everso" and a fiery extended version of "Last Train to Satansville," Swervedriver closed their set with a shimmering rendition of "Duel" that found the gracious crowd beaming and singing along passionately, suggesting that both Swervedriver and their fans are equally happy the band are back in Canada.