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  • Annie Skinner

Slowdive and Drab Majesty Build A Wall Of Sound in Indianapolis

Review by Annie Skinner / Photos by Andy Skinner

Photo by Andy Skinner
Slowdive live at Old National Centre, May 5 2024. Photo by Andy Skinner.

Arriving Downtown on Mass Ave. on Sunday May 5th one could sense the excitement for the much-anticipated Slowdive tour, with support from the band Drab Majesty, that has been on the road since the Fall of 2023. Outside the Old National Centre, where the event was booked in The Egyptian Room, the neighborhood was bustling with people from different music scenes coming together for the night - from metalheads, to goths, to long-time-fan parents sharing the concert experience with their youngsters – likely some that have seen TikTok posts featuring Slowdive songs “Alison” & “When The Sun Hits.” The weather was perfect, especially to hang out and flaunt your favorite band t-shirt, likely saved just for the occasion to get that “cool shirt” nod and comment. Kids rocking Bauhaus shirts and elder scenesters looking their best, the alternative scene felt way more alive that it has seemed in a long time. 


Around 8pm, to much anticipation, “Dot In The Sky’s” booming kick drum started off the Drab Majesty set perfectly, and the mesmerized crowd got their sway on while some quietly sang along. The 2-piece Drab Majesty’s distinct post-punk and goth-infused sound, created by members Deb Demure and Mona D, recently has earned praise for their EP An Object in Motion on LA-based Dais Records (a heavily-spun label here at Indy CD & Vinyl). The EP’s single, “Vanity,” featuring Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, has been particularly well-received, offering a rare blend of Goswell’s ethereal vocals atop Drab Majesty’s darker tones.

In interviews, the duo’s Deb DeMure and Mona D have said that their pseudonymous personas and unsettling makeup are an effort to leave “no human trace” in their art. They’re reaching for “something beyond the everyday.”


Photo by Andy Skinner
Drab Majesty live at Old National Centre, May 5 2024. Photo by Andy Skinner.

The duo took the stage in impenetrable dark shades, matching suit-and-tie outfits, silver painted skin, and Warhol-esque white wigs – offering to us a measure of relief the band has finally reached Indianapolis, rather than the unsettling feeling they try to achieve with their costumes. It has felt like a lifetime of waiting to see this band and their inimitable appearance in Indy and, like myself, many friends have had to travel great distances to see each of these two bands perform so it was a special treat to see them here in our city. Thankfully Indy turned out! The Egyptian Room was packed and full of energy - especially for a Sunday.


With that in mind, Drab Majesty meticulously blazed through their dynamic hits “Oxytocin”, “Ellipsis”, “Cold Souls", “Too Soon To Tell”, & “Not Just A Name” like a band that has been on this tour honing their craft and getting tighter with each show since the Fall of 2023. They were spot-on under the bold blue & red shifting lights and bellowing fog and were very polished in their anthropomorphized robotic expression. Their cinematic stage design was simple yet elegant and paired nicely with their droning sound as to not take anything away from what’s important to them – that certain something beyond the everyday.


Photo by Andy Skinner
Drab Majesty live at Old National Centre, May 5 2024. Photo by Andy Skinner.

The final track “The Skin And The Glove” started with a droning vibe, followed by a mesmerizing twelve string guitar sound that built into a sun-drenched flange-heaviness with hazy vocals that sounded so familiar - yet otherworldly - especially as it built the shoegaze wall of sound. This was the perfect final song selection, bearing evident influence of late 80s and early 90s shoegaze bands to lead right into Slowdive, a clear inspiration for Drab Majesty’s career. 


You can purchase records by Drab Majesty at Indy CD & Vinyl or online from us at this link HERE. An extra-special bonus is we have quite a few autographed Drab Majesty records from the band at this show – stop in right away to get yours while they last (not available at our online store)!

 

It’s just after 9:15pm and now it’s time for the long-awaited performance by the 5-piece English shoegaze band Slowdive. To my pleasant surprise they were introduced with the walk-out track “Deep Blue Day” by the one-and-only Brian Eno (my favorite track to close out Spellbound DJ dance nights at The White Rabbit. At that moment I knew we were in for an amazing show to follow that song.


Photo by Andy Skinner
Slowdive live at Old National Centre, May 5 2024. Photo by Andy Skinner.

Slowdive originally formed in Reading, Berkshire, in 1989. The band consists of Rachel Goswell (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Neil Halstead (vocals, guitars), Christian Savill (guitars), Nick Chaplin (bass), and Simon Scott (drums, guitars, electronics), all of whom played on the band's debut studio album, Just For A Day, in 1991. In September 2023 Slowdive released another album titled Everything Is Alive on Dead Oceans (an independent record label formed in 2007 and based here in Indiana).


Photo by Andy Skinner
Slowdive live at Old National Centre, May 5 2024. Photo by Andy Skinner.

After a moment of silence and some crowd shout-outs proclaiming their love for Rachel, Slowdive began their set with “Shanty” from Everything Is Alive and were welcomed by the Indianapolis crowd’s shouts and applause. With Rachel front and center, the “love” howls continued followed by giggles from Rachel as well as some in the crowd.


While many modern rock acts are opting for giant LED screens and hi-res imagery, it felt a bit like Slowdive was staying true to their 90s roots with a backdrop drape smothered in projected Windows 95 screen-saver optics and a fantastic light show from the house cans.

“Star Roving” from their amazing 2017 self-titled album was next and was followed by “Catch The Breeze” off of their debut album.


Photo by Andy Skinner
Slowdive live at Old National Centre, May 5 2024. Photo by Andy Skinner.

The rest of the set contained songs from every Slowdive record, including “Skin In The Game,” “Chained To A Cloud,” and “Kisses” from Everything Is Alive, “Crazy for You” from the post-rock masterwork, Pygmalion. Newer track “Kisses” was an incredibly fuzz-drenched powerhouse, as was, “40 Days” from the much-loved Souvlaki. Phones predictably and immediately went up to record reels during hits “Sugar For The Pill” from Slowdive and “Allison,” off Souvlaki with the biggest crowd response during the latter track as what seemed like the entire crowd helping sing along. Souvlaki’s “When The Sun Hits” helped round out the pre-break selections of songs for what was becoming an increasingly warm Egyptian Room.


Photo by Andy Skinner
Slowdive live at Old National Centre, May 5 2024. Photo by Andy Skinner.

After returning to the stage for a three-song encore, consisting of “She Calls,” off Just For A Day and Souvlaki’s “Dagger,” the band finished the night with a cover of Syd Barrett’s 1970 psych-folk dirge, “Golden Hair.” Goswell serenaded Indianapolis with the James Joyce-inspired song, then exited the stage, leaving her bandmates to soar into yet another wall of sound, really the only way to finish a Slowdive show.


I, along with what I assume for every attendee in the venue that night, consider myself extremely lucky that we were able to witness two dynamic bands here in Indianapolis that never before have performed in the Hoosier state. Although the acts are originally from different times, they both produced a show that is indicative of each being at the top of their game, and for that we were left feeling blessed by sonic waves. Truly, Slowdive and Drab Majesty Build A Wall Of Sound in Indianapolis.

 

You can purchase records by Slowdive at Indy CD & Vinyl or online from us at this link HERE.


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