by Kayla Avitabile
The cozy Cambridge venue Sonia was filled with adoring rockers who had come to see Oxford-based indie/alternative band Swervedriver. This is the second time Swervedriver has been to Boston this year, their first appearance being as support for Failure at Paradise Rock Club back in the spring. While many venues in Cambridge have that intimate vibe, this venue is the definition of intimate vibe. The stage was close to the ground and lead singer Adam Franklin engaged with audience commentary in an easygoing, nonchalant manner during the set. The show felt so special due to the fact that it was so low-key, and that there was no trace of some type of superiority complex on behalf of the musicians. You felt like you were friends with the band, just hanging out while they jammed.
With that said, the band played a long set with an even mix between old tracks and new material off their latest record, Future Ruins, such as their opener “Mary Winter,” title track “Future Ruins,” and others like “The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air,” and “Drone Lover.” And of course the band ended strong with a three song encore featuring hits such as “Sunset,” crowd favorite “Rave Down” and finally “Son of Mustang Ford.” All of their songs had that rough, uncut distortion that creates that paradoxical “controlled chaos” effect. The music was great because of these imperfections and resulting feedback that the distortion created. A song is a song, but these playful glitches added this kind of sweet suspense for musical resolution (going from distorted to clean rather than dissonant to harmonic). Swervedriver epitomizes why hearing music live is entirely different from simply listening to it through your headphones.
Evidence for this was more than clear, judging by the crowd’s response. There were the typical sing alongs, but also there were a few people in the crowd who would yell out in excitement to the band between songs. What they were saying was often unintelligible, but nonetheless the band responded warmly with laughter. And those attendees that stayed long enough after the show had a chance to chat with the band at their merch table. In that sense, this notion of feeling like a “friend” to Swervedriver goes beyond watching them play, as audience members could actually connect with them one on one after the show.
Seeing Swervedriver was not just a listening experience, but also a truly interactive one, which makes going to one of their shows pretty hard to forget.