I learned about Slowdive through Facebook. More accurately, I learned about Slowdive through Facebook when the majority of my friends who I deem “music nerds” began posting enthusiastically when, on May 18, 2014, Slowdive played their first show in 20 years. The influx of posts on my newsfeed was immediately followed by a quick Google search, which revealed that the 2005 reissue of their 1993 album Souvlaki had garnered a 9.3 from Pitchfork. My interests were further piqued when the article, justifying the “Best New Reissue” designation, name dropped My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, Galaxie 500 and Mazzy Star.
On May 19, I piped Souvlaki through my headphones during my morning commute. The music that followed was some of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. There have been many definitions of beauty, but the one I most identify with is when something just feels soo right. Souvlaki definitely just felt soo right. Frontman Neil Halstead has this cold voice that, to provide a modern comparison, closely resembles The xx’s Oliver Sim, and when paired with vocalist and guitarist Rachel Goswell, they create a symphony of sound that dives straight into your heart.
The vocals are backed by a beautiful mix of slow-motion guitars and hazy pop. For Souvlaki, Slowdive had asked visionary musician Brian Eno to produce the album, but instead of agreeing to produce, he asked if he could collaborate. The two tracks Eno is on, “Sing” and “Here She Comes,” bare his distinctive mark. Souvlaki may be pop, but it is perfectly dreamt up pop, showing influences of post-punk bands such as The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees and, in my opinion, standing up to the other shoegaze greats of the early ‘90s such as My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and the Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas.
Slowdive followed up Souvlaki with Pygmalion in 1995, an album where Halstead moved away from dreamy guitar pop and into a more minimalist ambient approach. While that album has since garnered a positive critical reception, Slowdive was dropped from their label a week after its release. Shortly after, three of Slowdive’s members moved in a different direction recording an album of country-influenced songs under the name Mojave 3. Slowdive has been on hiatus ever since—that is until now.
Immediately following the announcement of Slowdive’s return on that fateful May day, I began a series of conversations with my aforementioned music nerds, devising how we could see Slowdive. We poured over the proposed tour dates, but it seemed that—given the locations were mostly 3,000 miles away—an intimate live date with Slowdive would not come to pass. That was until July 14, when they announced their North American tour dates, including an evening in Portland at the Crystal Ballroom.
Now that day, November 5, is upon us and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. Teaming up with the minimalist indie band Low, this date promises to be one of the more emotional musical moments of the year. Join me, my music nerds and hundreds of others who have been waiting for this moment for almost 20 years. Join us for an evening of beautifully composed shoegaze.