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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Review Wed Nov 05 2014

Slowdive & Low Flowed Steadily into The Vic

slowdivevi.jpgSlowdive made their return to music after nearly 20 years of absence. It says a lot that a band with only three albums to their name has ad as much attention and fervor associated with their reunion. You could chalk it up to nostalgia of a better time, but their sound has a much more eternal quality. I am almost certainly on the younger end of Slowdive fans considering my newborn status at the time of their formation, nonetheless I've been enchanted by their dreamy sound for years. Their return fills me with unfettered joy and stands a chance for their songs to get the due they richly deserve.

The reunion tour has placed Slowdive with a really apt pairing, placing Low's softer and mellower music as a lead in to Slowdive's more expansive wave of sound is one of those perfect transitions. This past week's show at the Vic was Slowdive's second time playing in Chicago this year, following up the amazing performance at Pitchfork Festival this summer. With a closed and more sound-pleasing venue, Slowdive simply couldn't, and didn't, disappoint.

Low opening for Slowdive seemed a little strange for a moment or two in my head. They started up as a band right around the time Slowdive was making their exit, and stayed active far longer that Slowdive was. If anything the lineup to me felt like a co-headlining show on paper, but in reality that was not the case. Low could have easily stolen the show with their delicately slow songs that saunter along with confidence, but rather than upstage the headliners they produced a well-crafted nine song set. Although Low has 10 albums under their belt, their short set pulled heavily from their last album, The Invisible Way, which ended up being very appropriate considering it was recorded in Chicago with the assistance of Jeff Tweedy. The deviations from that album were absolutely welcomed, like "Last Snowstorm of the Year" and "Starfire." Low ended their set as humbly and quietly as they started, making way for the return of Slowdive.

During the incredibly long wait between sets, the stage took a slow transformation. Low had played on a black cloth-covered setting, no frills nor excesses to point away from the band. Huge structures were revealed as the moments passed, a collection of square monitors patterned across the back of the stage. After what seemed like a life time and the sold out crowd had finally squeezed into the Vic, the lights when dark to the tune of Brian Eno's "Deep Blue Day." Rows of bulbs flash into the crowd, placing the band's arrival on stage in a hollow silhouette as they begin playing their eponymous song, "Slowdive."

Slowdive's amazingly lush sound was captured in spectacular fashion with the mammoth background display. Each of theirs songs was punctuated with apropos images that sucked the audience in even more than they already were. The oscillating circles tunneling through the crowd in the opening moments of the show were a mere glimpse of what was to come. "Blue Skied an' Clear" was accompanied by beatific clouds drifting through the monitors. Creepy shots of doll eyes mixed in with actual eyes put "She Calls" under a new weird light, while the incandescent bulbs that flickered during "Dagger" made the songs soft and dim nature all the more meaningful. The visuals were truly hypnotizing and enhanced the music, embodying it and adding another layer to Slowdive's already deep tones.

The setlist throughout the reunion tour has been the same and that really garners no heavy complaints from me. The heavy emphasis on the early EP songs and Souvlaki is completely understandable. This was the band at their highest points. "Catch the Breeze" and "Rutti" were the only songs representing the albums the appeared on, Just for a Day and Pygmalion respectively. Slowdive has aged incredibly well over the years, performing with the finesse you would have expect from them in their prime. As the final droning moments of "40 Days" rang to a close, I could only hope this was the beginning Slowdive's return.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
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Cubby Bear
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Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
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Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
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Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
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Drag City
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Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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