Few things get the The Spin extra giddy — really even non-extra, regular-amount giddy — like a visit from our favorite unsung heroes of '90s indie rock. “Swirlies” seems like a simple enough name that even though we’d verified the information, it could still be coincidence and not the veteran Bostonian noise-pop ensemble we cherish from our youth opening for Kurt Vile and his Violators. However, upon climbing the Mercy Lounge staircase only to walk face-first into a squealing wall of melodic, lysergic bliss that was soon interrupted by a jarring diversion into well-rehearsed racket, mangled chords and an undercurrent of pure cacophony, we knew this was our band. Unfortunately, our tardiness meant that one song is all we got, leaving our appetite for nostalgia whetted but ultimately unfulfilled.
If it was any consolation, headliner Vile oozes more than his share of throwback slacker vibes, as he and the Violators took the stage around 10:30, breaking into our own and likely everyone else’s (at least everyone who was in this room) sweet summer jam “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day” from this year's Wakin' on a Pretty Daze. Half of Vile’s charm is that he’s in no hurry to get anywhere anytime soon. The traipsing pace of Vile’s fuzzy folk made its way into most of his latest long-player — a yawning, stretching, wake-'n'-bake of a platter heavily featured in Sunday night's set list. However, that same charm had us literally stretching and yawning a little less than halfway in. With minimal changes in tempo, dynamics or even banter (of which there was very little to begin with), the set was blurring into one long, plodding, twinkling lullaby, even if the band's volume — which was somewhere between "Teeth-Rattling" and "Bone-Pulverizing" on the loudness scale — kept us awake.
No traditional singer-songwriter’s set would be complete without a solo acoustic interlude, which Vile made good on. Even if he was only getting quieter, it still made for some much-needed diversity, with the packed and attentive audience matching Vile’s more hushed tone. One could have heard a beer bottle crack during the stripped-down “Peeping Tomboy," before the band came out to deliver the very stuff we needed. “Freak Train” was a pepped-up, blown-out blast of stoner pop that hit us like like a poolside popsicle.
Some folks in the front made way for the rest of us, either unaware or unconcerned that the absence of house music and activities of the guitar tech suggested an eminent encore. (And since we mentioned him, we'll just note that the tech had his work cut out for him, swapping an arsenal of axes in and out on behalf of Vile and his two fellow guitarists all evening.) Vile and the band came back to toss out a couple stripped-down faves — namely “Baby’s Arms” and “He’s Alright” — before he motored off the stage to greener rooms, and we motored our way on home.