Thoughts on the band Slowdive and Souvlaki Space Station


In the early to mid nineties I worked at Radio Erindale, the University of Mississauga campus radio station. Those were interesting years because, not only was the campus a two hour transit ride from home, but it also was my first step to an independent life. Radio Erindale had its tiny cast of characters that feel larger than life looking back now. We had our resident goth, Leonard, who’d sleep on the dingy crew sofa before his show. He’d wake up in a flurry or black and angst to do it too. Our avant-garde, experimental chic guy was Tom Sekowski. His name might be familiar to many as a music writer for Exclaim and many other fledgling mags of the time. Then the philosopher Christopher Hendry who was really into Jack Kerouac and laid back indie and shoegaze fare. Steve McMaster was head of our station at the time and would regale us with tales of his adventures hobnobbing with musical guests. Also, Mike “Metal Mike” Filonienko and Sam Pisani who were a conservative metal duo who introduced me to Husker Du and Sugar. I was the girl in the crew at the radio station. I had my own show of mishmash stuff, but my main duty was to crash in the music library to work or do my readings for class (as if that ever got done there).

I was all starry eyed about everything at the time, but my head was always in the music library, sorting and organizing records and cds. It was my job which paid close to nothing, but eventually I became promotions manager and acting station manager when Steve left. Most of the time, I’d get first dibs at listening to the new releases that came into the station. I was exposed to a lot and one of the albums I first listened to there was Slowdive’s Souvlaki Space Station.

The listening room at the station was cramped and tiny, so I chose to listen to most stuff over the indoor speakers as I put away stuff. I remember almost falling over myself listening to that Slowdive album. The haunting sounds of the cover of Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra’s “Some Velvet Morning,” floored me completely. “40 Days,” was the musical equivalent of meeting a long lost friend, while “When The Sun Sits,”   It’s an album which is like a tempered wall of noise, you know it’s going to explode into a sonic boom of guitars, lilting vocals, and ethereal feedbacks, all birthed in a droning beatnik bass lines and rumbling percussion. The combination of Neil Halstead (vocals, guitar), Rachel Goswell (vocals, guitar – an angel, if you ask me), Christian Savill (guitar), Nick Chaplin (bass), Simon Scott (drums – a whirlwind of awesome), and Brian Eno on production work on “Sing” and “Here She Comes” was and is the perfect chimera of noise candy.

Souvlaki is/was a must have, as I listened to it constantly, and still do. It would be my lullaby, my day dream music, my soother, and most of all, my greatest companion when I’d lie on the floor of the studio or my bedroom and I thought the world was too much. I’d escape to it, like a great book, and fly over my little ordinary world into something beyond myself. My world was then shoegaze and my ears have been forever grateful for that.

I was too young and sheltered to see them back in 1994, but last night I got to see them at The Danforth Music Hall. They didn’t disappoint. They performed a surprisingly danceable version of “Allison” (usually I’d twirl to it in my room. I was pretty much pogo-ing most of the night). “When The Sun Sets” was overwhelming to experience in person, while “Crazy For You” had the guy next to me in hysterics.

I only took two pictures. This one:

and this one:

You can see some pretty great ones if you scroll down on the hashtag on twitter:

Honestly, I felt like I was meeting that friend that sang me to sleep, sang me through the hard times, and the great times when the rain would fall slowly like a film noir, or the sun came blazing out of the trees in walks through the city. I’m incredibly ecstatic today and wearing my Slowdive shirt like a lingering comfort hug. Thank you so much to Slowdive for last night, all the nights beforehand, and the ones to come. Even in the reincarnations and side projects you’ve gifted us (Mojave 3 <3), your other albums (Pygmalion deserves an essay of its own), demos and b-sides, you continue to amaze and give me pause for thought. Slowdive, I adore you.

P.S. I still meet up with those Radio Erindale guys. They became lifelong buddies.

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