Sunday night, two bands who will likely end up on many Best Albums of 2017 lists (ours included) made up one of the better bills of the year at The Wiltern. Shoegaze legends Slowdive headlined, while maturing indie rockers Cherry Glazerr opened things up.
These are two bands that love to use heavy distortion, but in different ways and for completely different purposes. Cherry Glazerr is a band that has graduated from the Burger Records sound with their fantastic record Apocalipstick, and they’ve grown equally as live performers. Lead vocalist Clementine Creevy’s screeching vocals are an incredible focal point in front of her crashing guitar sounds, and she’s learned how to control her falsetto like a seasoned pro.
Slowdive uses distortion to wash over the listener like a hot shower. Their self-titled record that dropped earlier this year was their first in 22 years. They returned at Coachella a few years ago following a long hiatus, and their last release is arguably the best of their career. Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell’s contrasting vocals mesmerized the crowd into submission during their nearly two-hour set.
The band’s intense visuals were a welcome backdrop to the group’s sound. The first few songs, it was hard to hear Goswell’s vocals over the guitars, but that cleared up by the third track “Crazy For You,” from their excellent album Pygmalion. I looked around and noticed a mostly older crowd assembled towards the front. An older dude who looked tripped out by the visuals screamed “Yeah!” at one of the quieter moments. I do know friends who chose Slowdive’s FYF Fest set as when to time their psychedelic trip’s peak, it’s not impossible that guy was on that wavelength.
One funny moment came when an older lady yelled “Vapour Trail!” — which is actually a song by fellow shoegaze veterans Ride (who also dropped an amazing album this year). It’s not uncommon that these bands get mixed up, although I would say Slowdive is the band most at the top of their game of the bunch. The chemistry on stage between Halstead, Goswell, Simon Scott on drums, Christian Savill on guitar, and Nick Chaplin on bass is immeasurable.
The combination towards the end of the set of old signature hit “Alison” and their lead single from their new album “Sugar for the Pill” was the set’s peak. This is a band that has only grown better with age, like a fine wine. These are also two bands I’d love to see at Desert Daze 2018, they fit right in with that vibe.
Don’t forget — Cherry Glazerr has a show scheduled for the Fonda Theatre on December 29 — you won’t want to miss that one.