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Adam Franklin: 20 June 2009 - House of Blues, Chicago

Words and Pictures by Kirstie Shanley

Anyone even remotely familiar with the British music scene of the 1990s might have heard of Adam Franklin who played an instrumental role in Swervedriver, a band that teetered around the shoegaze movement with a slightly more aggressive sound than many groups in the genre. If bands like Slowdive provided the dream pop lullabies, Swervedriver recalled the most visceral points in any live My Bloody Valentine set.

Though Swervedriver did reunite in 2008, this Chicago appearance placed the spotlight specifically on Adam Franklin -- both in a musical and visual sense. While Franklin was immersed in light, his three band members stood in the darkness creating background sounds. Effects pedals were prevalent throughout the show with even Franklin’s vocals treated like just another instrument.

Though one couldn’t quite call it dream pop, there was definitely a lush, melodic momentum sweeping through Frankin’s set. It was less of an aural assault and more moody melancholy. The effect was one of atmospheric quality, something that was accomplished without losing any sense of structure.

Throughout Franklin’s 45-minute set, little bits of melodic feedback and understated wah-wah solos wove together for an overall dreamy presentation. If one happened to wander in early without expectations or knowledge of how Swervedriver helped inspired countless shoegaze bands, it would have been impressive. Yet his past does not distract as Franklin’s new musical pursuit has a presence all of its own.

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