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Three Must-See Acts This Week - May 24, 2018 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Three Must-See Acts This Week

Slowdive. Photo by ingridpop

Shoegaze

Slowdive

8 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30, at The Fillmore. $39.50; thefillmore.com

One of shoegaze’s heavyweights, Slowdive is a rarity: a band that reunites after a long hiatus only to return stronger than before. The five-piece group formed nearly 30 years ago in Reading, England, amid similar-minded groups like My Bloody Valentine and Ride, all of who employed a heavy use of guitar effects to produce a mix of harsh, dreamy soundscapes. Slowdive released its 1991 debut album Just for a Day to mixed reviews, as the music press at the time was hesitant to fully embrace the “shoegaze” style, which was initially coined as a semi-derogatory term. Visibly affected by the negative reception, Slowdive’s members found themselves in a dark place during the recording of their second album, Souvlaki, with leading members Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell ending their relationship. Receiving mixed feedback upon its troubled release in 1993, Souvlaki is regarded as not only a seminal recording in shoegaze, but one of the best albums of the 1990s. However, after venturing into more atmospheric territory on their 1995 album Pygmalion, Slowdive unceremoniously called it quits, with Goswell and Halstead forming the dream folk group Mojave 3, among other projects.

Many fans only became aware of Slowdive long after its dissolution. Prayers for a reunion were answered in 2014, as Slowdive reunited for a tour that saw the group playing for large and enthusiastic crowds they never had during their original 6-year run. Last May saw the release of Slowdive’s fourth album, the first in 22 years, to universal acclaim from fans and critics alike. The self-titled album explores ethereal territory familiar from prior releases, but the blistering energy and heart poured into these songs makes Slowdive’s return feel less like a victory lap and more like the move of a band at its creative peak.

 

Indie Pop

TV Girl

7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 26, at Swedish American Hall. $13; swedishamericanhall.com

On the surface, San Diego trio TV Girl sounds like a pleasant throwback to sunshine-drenched ’60s psychedelic pop, with modern electronic and hip-hop elements blended in. As bright and bubbly as their music may seem, frontman Brad Petering’s blunt, introspective lyrics give the otherwise happy-sounding group a brooding soul distinct from other contemporary indie-pop groups. Formed in 2010, TV Girl is the brainchild of Petering and Trung Ngo, who initially received attention from music blogs for their Todd Rundgren-sampling single “If You Want It” — much to the ire of Rundgren’s label — and gave listeners a taste of the duo’s pop-sensibilities. After releasing a string of EPs and mixtapes to an increasingly enraptured online fanbase, the group released its debut album French Exit in 2014 to critical acclaim, highlighted by improved production techniques as well as Petering’s smooth, grim vocals. TV Girl’s sophomore album, Who Really Cares, hears the group return to a similar sample-heavy, retro-yet-modern sound that feels just as at home today as it could have in 1969. Death of a Party Girl, TV Girl’s newest album released earlier this month, hears a playfully cynical Petering reflect on his experiences living in Los Angeles, often with a humorous but critical perspective as heard in standout track “Stupid Actress.” 

 

Godspeed You Black Emperor. Photo by Yannick Grandmont

Post-rock

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

7 p.m., Tuesday, May 29, at The Fox Theater Oakland. $30.50; thefoxoakland.com

When asked by The Guardian if their music was “political,” Canadian-group Godspeed You! Black Emperor responded, “What’s political music? All music is political, right? You either make music that pleases the king and his court, or you make music for the serfs outside the walls.” This defiant attitude has dominated the ethos of Godspeed’s output, but those looking for clear resolution in the group’s epic-length songs, dubbed by the band as “movements,” will find themselves equally mystified and intrigued. The group formed in Montreal during the mid-1990s, and shortly grew into a roughly nine-member collective with musicians frequently joining and leaving. After a stable lineup solidified, Godspeed released its 1997 debut album F# A#∞ to critical acclaim, with listeners stunned by the cinematic sound and boldness to release “songs” that range from 15 to 30 minutes in length. Godspeed’s 2000 sophomore album, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven, remains its signature recording, capturing the ability to manipulate your emotions over the course of one song. The group eventually entered a hiatus that lasted most of the decade, reuniting in 2010 and releasing a steady output of surprise albums since then. Luciferian Towers, Godspeed’s newest politically charged album released last September, hears the group return to their trademark drones, but the album’s tone feels lighter and there is a refreshing sense of optimism that was absent in their recent releases. Of course, the best way to fully experience Godspeed is live, as the group creates a tense atmosphere with releases of ecstatic bursts that pushes the audience to its emotional limits.