Noise can be a funny thing. Frightening. Painful. Exhilarating. Sometimes a mixture of all three. When Swervedriver descended upon a sparsely-populated Waiting Room for its explosive Tuesday night show, it was decidedly this last property that was in effect. Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge, abetted by new-ish drummer Mikey Jones and a stand-in bassist (longtime 4-stringer Steve George apparently sidelined by the demands of new-fatherhood!), brought the noise in a righteous fashion. The hits were in abundance – “Rave Down”, “Duel”, “For Seeking Heat”, classics all – and rarities dotted the set (like “the Birds” from 1995’s unreleased-stateside “Ejector Seat Reservation””). The new material from this year’s stellar “I Wasn’t Born to Lose You” nestled nicely in between these chestnuts. Played with passion and volume, new cuts like “Autodidact” and “Setting Sun” stretched out and roared with an immediacy that was sometimes absent on the album. Franklin’s Jazzmaster should be a registered weapon – the massive chords and silvery sweeps he coaxed out of it were palpable (perhaps only topped by Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis in terms of being physically blown back by the sound), and the array of pedals in front of him and Hartridge were struck frequently and with aplomb.
The fans in attendance (all seemingly part of the close-knit Buffalo-scene) lapped it up, but hearing (and feeling) the throb of “Never Lose That Feeling” and an astonishingly-great version of “Last Train to Satanville” as an encore made you feel like this wasn’t simply another show, but rather a “moment”. The euphoria of heads bobbing in unison as the band worked through the protracted breakdown in “Satansville” was what I imagine an effective church sermon is like – communal, enveloping and a direct link to something primal and bigger than the self. The crowd may have been on the smaller side, but the love for the band was big and the sea of smiling, blissed-out faces indicated that something transformative had been witnessed that night.