- by Tim Sentz Rating: Release Date: Label:
Friday nights in Lawrence are hardly ever a boring time. But on the 12th, Liberty Hall housed two iconic alternative rock bands known for their breathtaking performances. The co-headlining tour was announced in February: Failure & Swervedriver. Two bands that were making the rounds in the 90s but ended up disbanding after several classic records. Thanks to the internet (and file-sharing) both bands were rejuvenated in the 21st century and reunions came about, followed by comeback albums by both in 2015 (I Wasn’t Born to Lose You and The Heart is a Monster). And to their credit, both were great.
Failure headlined Friday night, so Swervedriver went on promptly at 8:30 pm and burst through a couple of new cuts from January’s Future Ruins – “Mary Winter” and one of my favorites “The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air” – before time jumping back to their debut Raise with “Sandblasted” much to the crowd’s delight. The new material-heavy set may have perplexed the crowd who hadn’t yet heard their most recent efforts – a majority of the audience was older guys who probably don’t know what a Spotify is – but that didn’t deter Swervedriver from delivering a tight set that included classics like “Never Lose That Feeling” and “Deep Seat.” The biggest reaction came during fan favorite and shoegaze classic “Duel” to close out the set. Overall, Swervedriver continue to defy the pitfalls of reunions, and still seem to be enjoying themselves while doing it.
Failure wasn’t far behind, and the crowd increased by 25% by the time the lights went out. Introducing a more visual experience, with neon blue lights, smoke, and back lighting, Failure came charging out with a similar approach – three cuts from their newest and severely underrated and overlooked record In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind – “Solar Eyes” got things going and it appeared Failure hadn’t missed a beat since the hiatus after The Heart is a Monster. They kept swinging hard with “Distorted Fields” and “Heavy and Blind” both new songs, before giving in to the crowds demands by launching into a string of older cuts from their beloved 1998 album Fantastic Planet. “Another Space Song,” “Pillowhead,” “Smoking Umbrellas,” and “Stuck On You” kept the crowd maddened, demanding more.
One of my personal favorites from The Heart is a Monster was played, “Counterfeit Sky.” Failure’s brand of alt-rock is more advanced than the radio rock that’s manufactured in a board meeting, so it was warming to see such a devoted following for it packed into Liberty Hall. And while Swervedriver was technically the opener of the two, they held their own and proved that not all reunions are a wash. Failure closed their set with the adored (and superior to the A Perfect Circle version) “The Nurse Who Loved Me” before the tried-and-true closer of “Screen Man.” Failure and Swervedriver are wrapping up this tour soon, so if there are any doubts on whether to see them, erase them from your mind. Here are two bands that may have had some wonderful recognition in the 90s, but they still sound great in the 21st century.