Sapphire Supper Club, Orlando • 3.9.98
First, I must admit something. Before this show, I had never so much as heard of Hum, much less had any knowledge of why they would headline a show when Swervedriver was playing. I explain this for journalistic integrity, so you will understand my bias. One thing I learned quickly about Hum’s fans… they are young and a bit slow on the draw. I learned this from this kid who looked to be about 14 years of age. He was the kid who decided that the laws of physics would be suspended for his benefit as he attempted to walk through me with a lit cigarette in each hand. Cigarette burns are quite painful.
On with the show… After years of waiting to see Swervedriver play live (I missed them with Smashing Pumpkins), they were on. The set opened with “Duel” from the Mezcal Head CD and it just kept getting better after that. Songs from all their CDs were played, making for a very balanced set. Lilting Beatle-esque songs made way for more powerful Brit-rock, which then opened up into pieces which showcased the band’s ability to make soundscapes that are both enthralling and damaging. There were songs conspicuously absent in the set, like the title song to the new CD and the classic “Last Train To Satansville,” but that is to be expected considering the opening slot (I’m still puzzled… ) and the extensive CD catalog the band has to choose from. Onstage, the band definitely had that British detached cool. They let the music do most of the talking and didn’t feel the need to move around much on stage or engage in excessive banter, though the few comments they made were pretty sharp. It was remarkable to see this band faced with so many sound-related problems (microphone wasn’t grounded, bass was too loud, guitar straps breaking etc.) and not lose its collective cool. “Busiest Guitar Tech” award goes out to Swervedriver’s tech, who had the task of tuning between every song, sometimes twice. The parting note from the drummer was an apology for taking so long to get back to Orlando after problems with labels. There was also a promise that it was worked out and that they would be back in the summer. I, for one, hope they make good on that promise.
Hum played a style of music kind of similar to Samiam or Jimmyeatworld. The instruments were overpowering the vocals, so I didn’t get a good idea of what they sounded like. They weren’t a bad band, but after two songs the evening was hitting a severe anticlimax, so my friend and I called it a night.