Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Failure - Swervedriver

6:30 p.m. Doors, 8 p.m. Show

$35 advance, $40 day of show

All ages welcome

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Unbound to any generation, scene or movement, Failure build upon an enduring catalog of inventive, inimitable and intriguing albums, as relevant today as they will be tomorrow.


Since forming in 1990, the influential Los Angeles trio - Ken Andrews [vocals, guitar, bass, programming], Greg Edwards [vocals, guitar, bass, keys] and Kellii Scott [drums, percussion] - have inhabited a universe of their own, orbited by seminal albums such as Comfort [1992], Magnified [1994] and Fantastic Planet [1996]. The latter received a rare 5-out-of-5 rating from Alternative Press as the group earned the public adoration of everyone from regular tour mates and friends Tool to Depeche Mode who openly praised the band for their cover of "Enjoy The Silence". Following a 17-year hiatus, 2015's The Heart Is A Monster re-established the band as a sought-after headliner in addition to attracting the praise of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Entertainment Weekly, to name a few. 2018 saw Failure continue forging ahead, releasing their fifth full-length album: In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind.


"When you're playing our songs back-to-back from record to record, I feel like the lines really blur," explains Ken. "To me, it shows the real sound of Failure was never the era we were in - whether it was the nineties or now. The real sound of Failure is the combination of people. We have a lot more experience today. My career started when Failure signed to Slash Records in 1990, and I haven't had any other job but making music since then. We've all kept going as musicians. As a result, we have a wider breadth of things we can do and are capable of. We're willing to leverage everything."


"Basically, we still like to give ourselves chills," adds Greg. "I think we've managed to retain an innocence and openness when the three of us are working. We're not cynical. We don't rely on formulas, and we're just as excited as always when something cool comes back through the speakers. That moment is always like being a kid again."


In keeping with this spirit, the latest body of work represents a significant first for the three-piece. For the first time, they released music in "quadrants" as four EPs throughout 2018, namely In The Future, Your Body Will Be, The Furthest Thing and From Your Mind. The final piece would be consumed within days of its completion.


"The unexpected thing about releasing the record in quadrants and writing as we went was that it actually inspired me to be more cohesive lyrically," Greg admits. "In the beginning of the process, I mentioned a theme of spiritual decapitation through technology without giving too much thought to remaining faithful to it. I found by the time the final four songs were written and complete, the downtime between writing and recording had allowed me to really flesh out this initial controlling idea from a number of perspectives."


After writing and recording both Fantastic Planet and The Heart Is A Monster in a rented space as a three-piece, they also adopted an approach similar to that of their second record, Magnified, bringing in drums last. "The working process for this record," Greg elaborates, "actually shares the most in common with Magnified, where Ken and I spent concentrated periods writing and completing songs from scratch. The difference is that for Magnified we were only recording demos during the writing phase, whereas now our workflow allows the demo stage to seamlessly incorporate into the final mix, which is ideal because we retain all the spontaneity of the basic tracks that were laid down as the songs were being written."


Ken and Greg wrote and recorded everything in Ken's studio just outside of Pasadena, while Kellii performed drums as an overdub in a large "live room" in Los Angeles.


"There were a few reasons for the EP idea," Ken explains. "It was more doable in terms of a pragmatic schedule and an emotional commitment. It also allowed us to get material out a full year before the

whole album was done and remind everyone, 'We're still alive.' Plus, we'd never done this before, so why not try it? Also, it was gratifying to feel an instant reaction. I feel like I needed that. Not to mention, I think Fantastic Planet sat on a shelf for almost two years before it came out, so it was good not to wait for once," he laughs.


Sonically, In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind sees Failure evolve. Opener "Dark Speed" unfolds as a static mood piece, restraining itself from ever climaxing into the explosive choruses and thick guitars the band is known for. Rather, it pulls the hanging thread of a larger tapestry loose. On the other spectrum, "Solar Eyes" gallops forward on a punked-out bass line without ever changing chords for two minutes. Disparate syncopation between drums and bass drive "Distorted Fields." Meanwhile, "What Makes It Easy" and "Another Post Human Dream" highlight Ken's ethereal delivery over Greg's lilting acoustic guitars. The moody "Heavy and Blind" amplifies the group's penchant for dynamics. At just shy of seven minutes, album closer "The Pineal Electorate" doubles as "a sister song to The Heart Is A Monster's 'Mulholland Dr.'," culminating in a final movement that is both utterly hopeless and strangely uplifting.


"To me, the record is a little more personal in terms of talking about relationships and what they mean," Ken confesses. "We pulled from direct experience more than we have in the past. It wasn't quite so intellectual. We're also never going to let you know exactly what's going on. It'll always be opaque.

Disconnection seems to be one of the themes we still gravitate towards though, even going back to Fantastic Planet. On this record, emotional disconnection is discussed and dealt with. You lose connection within your sphere of friends and acquaintances because of technology. Since social media isn't getting any smaller, that was our headspace. We're navigating this personally and as fathers."


Greg elaborates, "On one level, the album deals with the breakdown of relationships and the cruel, clear view you sometimes get of another person once the dust has settled. Baked into that is the fact that each individual suffers a dislocation from themselves as they have to rationalize or come to terms with how they let someone get so close without seeing them clearly. On a more macro level, the songs deal with our relationship to technology and how we let it invade our space, almost like another person, and how it basically kidnaps our best intentions and turns us into shells of our former selves. At the same time, it creates the illusion that all this 'screen time' and frantic searching is somehow vital and necessary. It really sort of mirrors the obsessive cycle of drug addiction, but rather than affecting individuals, it's infecting a whole planet all at once."


Failure also continued a tradition dating back to Fantastic Planet, by often separating songs with a "Segue." In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind picks up the numbering instituted on Fantastic Planet and continued on The Heart Is A Monster. "The numbers were necessary, so we knew which one we were playing if we wanted to do them live," smiles Ken.


Steeped in the band's own unique and evolving tradition, In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind signals another natural leap for Failure. As with all of their music, it will continue to ring out for a long time to come.


"When you listen to us, I'd like for you to be intrigued," Ken leaves off. "To really appreciate what we're doing, I feel like you have to listen to it a few times. You have to really dig in and stay a while to get the reward."









Adam Franklin (guitar, vocals)

Jimmy Hartridge (guitar)

Mikey Jones (drums)

Mick Quinn (bass)


"Space travel rock'n'roll" - that's how the band initially self-identified their sound. This was back in the 1990s, before the aspirational dreams of the computer age collided with reality. Across the four-album arc of their first era - Raise (1991); Mezcal Head (1993); Ejector Seat Reservation (1995); 99th Dream (1997) - Swervedriver made music that was all about the journey: songs called For Seeking Heat, Planes Over The Skyline, Juggernaut Rides, 93 Million Miles From The Sun And Counting. Swervedriver simulated the thrill of propulsion, the euphoric arrival, the anticipation of going back again (or not)... of moving on.

            And move on they did. During 10 years in absentia, the band's legend grew. Sages spoke mistily of these four desert rock horsemen of the apocalypse who came from Oxford and were shunned as exiles in their own land. In 2005, a two-disc anthology was compiled with the band's involvement, and foretold a resurrection. Sure enough, the trip resumed in 2008, with Swervedriver encountering the acclaim they ought to have enjoyed a decade earlier. A fifth album, I Wasn't Born To Lose You, emerged in 2015, a mere 17 years after its predecessor, and trumpeted some eternal Swervedriver virtues: the intricate, fissile guitar patterns of Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge, baked hard then dispatched in giant monolithic waves by a tactile rhythm section including drummer Mikey Jones. As the opening song Autodidact had it: "Holy fuel forever spilled".

            So much for the resurrection, now for the reckoning. The new Swervedriver album is titled Future Ruins, a two-word précis of its dread thrills. It opens with Mary Winter, a song narrated by a recognisable Swervedriver archetype: a traveler, hurtling away from this world. "Planet Earth long gone/And my feet won't touch the ground." But where is the traveler headed? And why? The second song, The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air, offers some possible answers: "We've stumbled into the end of days/Where the future comes home to cry..."

            "There's a lot of foreboding with regard to the future on this album," agrees Adam Franklin. "Space is in there a lot too. In the first song, the character is a spaceman who's trying to remember what life is really like. Also, it could be about somewhere in the world where winter isn't like the winter here. A sunny place, but its December or January and you're trying to remember winter. Something's going on."

            That something began in October 2017, with a two-week stint of tracking at MAKE Records Studio in Los Angeles. Having made I Wasn't Born To Lose You hard on the heels of an Australian tour, the band decided to repeat the process and bottle the momentum of a just-completed US tour performing both Raise and Mezcal Head in their entirety. "That's a good way to record," says Adam, "because you've literally just seen the whites of the audience's eyes and you're thinking, 'If that audience from last night were here now...' You can't get too mellow. We came home with 30 different songs."

            Stoking the creative energies was engineer TJ Doherty. A Grammy winner for his work on Wilco's A Ghost Is Born, his diverse credit list also includes Lou Reed and Steely Dan, Stephen Malkmus and Joanna Newsom, Sonic Youth and Selfish Cunt. But the band knew him in a previous life, from their first decade of existence. "He was a fan," says Adam. "We first met because he was down the front at all the gigs in New York and New Jersey a long lost time ago. He ended up going to engineering school and worked on all these cool records."

            The final 10 tracks were then mixed in spring 2018, as the band toured Europe - again, infusing the recordings with road-slick fumes. Future Ruins exhibits Swervedriver's fabled widescreen escapism, but with a tension that echoes a sleeve image of Coney Island in skeletal monochrome, like a post mortem photograph of a failed utopia. The title song offers a grim assessment of humanity's current condition: "We are ruled by fools/These are future ruins/That the king is insane/Is now old news."

            "That was an early lyric, I sang that one in LA, one of about three or four that I sang there," notes Adam. "It just came out. A rage at the state of the world."

            There's more where that came from. Drone Lover, a song that predates the last album, is a comment on the depersonalised nature of 21st century techno-warfare. For all its melody's humming mood elevation, The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air feels like an elegy, with one crushing couplet after another: "Choose your colours wisely/Because things ain't the same as in days gone by." That song's title - "it has a resonance that fits with these times," says Adam - evokes the alienation wrought by the mass embrace of so-called 'social' media; a perspective on our contemporary malaise that's also echoed in Everybody's Going Somewhere And No-One's Going Anywhere, a spoken word dreamscape.

            "Everybody's got the same amount of time on the planet," explains Adam. "There might be a couple in Italy, 90 years old, they've been married for 70, they've never left the country, and they might possibly have had a better life than the person running around who gets a heart attack at 40 after earning 2 million dollars."

            The trip ends with Radio-Silent's ghostly seven-minute afterburn, its lyric comprising just 26 words: "We're all so alone/And we all have to live as one/And we all must exist as one/And we all must resist as one." The track ends with police sirens and an electronic snap. "It's loud, but it's impotent rage," says Adam. "Everything is completely fucked up. There's no coming back from that one."

            So the journey's over, and yet Swervedriver ride on. Just as there was never any thought of I Wasn't Born To Lose You being a last hurrah for old time's sake, Future Ruins presents a band moving with real time/real life vitality. It showcases new tricks and classic hallmarks: pop songs which don't have choruses, like Mary Winter; odd arrangements and weird contrasts, like Spiked Flower's rock'n'roll grind breaking out to acknowledge English landscape painter John Constable; and a lyric that references Echo & The Bunnymen. See if you can spot that one...

            So space travel rock'n'roll: it still applies.

            "Sometimes I think we're deceptively complicated, which is better than being the other way around!" Adam laughs. "I love being back in this band. We're playing places that we've either not played in a long time, or new places like Singapore, where there were 20 year old kids there and they're singing the words to the *new songs... We don't want to be the band that just plays the old albums. We're glad to have a whole bunch of new songs. We're on it again."


Written by Keith Cameron, October 2018






The Crystal Ballroom

1332 W. Burnside
Portland OR 97209

(503) 225-0047
Contact us

Where On Any Night, Anything Can Happen!!

In these walls...

The historic Crystal Ballroom -- now over a century old -- is one of those rare concert halls that can point to a proud, diverse history while also laying claim to an ongoing musical legacy. Every time you enter this majestic ballroom, let your imagination sense the tremors resonating from a century's worth of gatherings, and realize that you are joining a thriving, generations-long procession of show-goers. Welcome!

Looking for your Crystal Ballroom Passport Stamps?

Crystal Ballroom, Lola’s Room & Crystal Brewery Tour occurs daily at 2 p.m. - meet at Ringlers Pub (street level below the Crystal Ballroom.) The tour takes about half an hour to complete. Any questions may be directed to the Crystal box office, 503-225-0047.

Stamps for the Crystal Ballroom and Lola’s Room are also available when you see a show – ticketed or free – in either venue.

Please note: Due to private events, concert setup needs and brewers’ schedules, not all spaces are guaranteed to be available to tour daily, but our staff will give it our best shot and show you the spaces that we can.

Tech Specs

Floor and stage plan
PDF download

Lighting diagram 
PDF download

Sound manifest
PDF download
Lola's Room: 
PDF download

Technical and logistical packet
For Crystal Ballroom & Lola's Room
PDF download

Ballroom height and beam-to-beam dimensions
16' 11" from beam to floor
19' 11" from floor to ceiling
14' 6" in between beams

Promoter Info

Rental Expenses To Outside Promoters

$365  PRODUCTION MANAGER ($54.75/hr OT)
$255  STAGE MANAGER ($38.32/hr OT)
$255  FOH TECHNICIAN ($38.32/hr OT)
$255  MONITOR ENGINEER ($38.32/hr OT)
$255  LIGHTING DIRECTOR ($38.32/hr OT)
$150  HOSPITALITY ($20/hr OT) [mileage is 33 cents per mile]
$1,000*  SECURITY ($100/hr OT)
$100  BOX OFFICE STAFF ($20/hr OT)
$ ----  CHAIR RENTAL ($2 per chair)
$ ----  BOX OFFICE CREDIT CARD FEE (3% of Box Credit Card Sales)

* Security cost is an estimate. Additional security may be required depending on the nature of the event. 

Overtime: All expenses incurred by the Crystal Ballroom for Catering, Advertising, requested stagehands, overtime (anything over 10 hours), backline, barricade, risers, etc. will be added to total rental rate.

Deposits: A non-refundable 50% room deposit and a $2,500 'untenured promoter fee' (UPF) is due immediately in order to secure the room. If ticket sales exceed 500 the 'UPF' will be refunded; if ticket sales are below 500 the room keeps the entire $2,500 to make up for less than 1/3 capacity and corresponding lack of sales. The 'UPF' will not be refunded if the event cancels within 60 days of the event.

Settlement: Venue will pay renter with a company check at the immediate conclusion of door sales. Venue will not provide any cash at settlement.

Late Night Fee: There is a $1,000/hour additional fee for any events after 3 a.m. We may also require additional security for events of that nature.

Merchandise: Merch rate is 20% they sell. We can provide a seller with advance notice and will keep 30% of sales. The outside promoter will receive no revenue from the merchandise as that is the prerogative of the house. House keeps a percentage of all transactions.

Tickets: All tickets must be placed through the venue onto the Cascade Tickets system. All comps, label buys, and holds must be approved by the venue. There is a $2/ticket venue fee at the Box Office.

Refunds: All refunds will be directed to the outside promoter. In the absence of an outside promoter representative, the venue shall use its own discretion regarding refunds and all refunds shall be deducted from settlement.

Insurance and Licenses: Renter must provide liability insurance not less than $1,000,000 for any single occurrence naming McMenamins Inc. d.b.a. Crystal Ballroom as additionally insured. Tickets will not be placed on sale until binder is received. Promoter is responsible for all ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC fees.

Production Advance: Performers or their representative must contact venue's production manager 5 days prior to the event in order to advance production needs, otherwise runner will arrive at 6 p.m. and all rider items/requests will be greatly limited if provided at all.

Layout: The Crystal Ballroom is located on the 3rd floor. The first floor is Ringlers Restaurant and the 2nd floor is Lola's Room, both of which may have a public or private event simultaneously with the Crystal.

Cancellation/Postponement: The contract covers the specified event for the specified date. No substitution will be accepted for a cancellation. If the event is postponed the room deposit will be transferred to the date of the new event but the $2,500 'UPF' will be applied toward the date of the originally scheduled show and an additional $2,500 will be required in order to reschedule.

Capacity: The venue's capacity is 1500*. All artist and promoter guests and comps will be deducted from sellable. Comp and guest space must be reserved in advance. House is entitled to 20 guests. House guests will not effect sellable. Promoter must have guest list to house no later than 2 hours prior to doors. VIP cap is 25.

* Seated capacity is 850. Seated shows must be 21 and over. There is a $2/chair rental fee.

Venue and corporate sponsor banners may be present during event.

Marketing your event at the Crystal Ballroom

Please contact Mike Walker for information about marketing your event through McMenamins resources.

Box Office

Please note! Both the Crystal Ballroom and Lola's Room specialize in open-floor shows with a very limited amount of seats. The rare seated events will be clearly denoted as such, within the event description on our schedule page.

Box Office Information

Tickets for all McMenamins shows are ticketed by Cascade Tickets, and may be purchased at the Crystal box office (located under the Crystal's awning) and McMenamins Edgefield, by phone at 1-855-CAS-TIXX, or by clicking the "Buy Tickets" link located at the event listing on our schedules.

Tickets bought directly at the Crystal box office or any of our four ticket outlets will only incur a $1 facility charge. (Please note! Tickets to Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn will incur additional service fees.)

Crystal Ballroom Box Office Hours 
Daily, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The box office is open later on nights when there is a performance.

The box office accepts cash, VISA, MasterCard, American Express and DiscoverCard.

Will Call

Will call is located at the box office.


All ticket purchases are non-refundable.


There are three pay lots nearby, and street parking is available.


Those with disabilities may call (503 225 0047) or email in advance to arrange early admittance.

There is an elevator located in the lobby.

Hold your Private Event at Crystal Ballroom

Weddings  Meetings  Social Events

The Crystal Ballroom is a truly awe-inspiring venue with its vaulted ceilings, grand chandeliers, giant wallscapes and famous "floating" dance floor. Accommodating groups from 100 to 1000 people, this 7,500-square-foot space includes access to the Ballroom's classic corner stage, floor-to-ceiling windows, swooping balcony, and full bar service.

Tucked in the Crystal’s second story is Lola’s Room accommodating events of up to 200 guests.  Lola’s comes with a handsome fully stocked bar, original artwork, and a floating dance floor all it’s own.

For overnight accommodations, our Crystal Hotel is just a block away!

Contact our sales team to inquire or book your event.
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Artwork plays an important role in the character of McMenamins locations throughout Oregon and Washington. We believe art makes life richer and more enjoyable. So, you'll often find paintings covering our walls, ceilings doors, overhead pipes, and equipment -- works as diverse and entertaining as our places for family and friends. Many artists have contributed to this vast variety of delightful eye candy. Jump in and enjoy some now!




Explore the Crystal Blocks

Our Crystal Hotel and legendary Crystal Ballroom are just across the street from each other, each offering their own unique spaces for live music, Northwest style fare and McMenamins hand crafted beverages.  Explore these properties and all they have to offer. 

Crystal Ballroom Property

Crystal Ballroom  Lola's Room  Ringlers Pub  Crystal Brewery

Crystal Hotel Property

Crystal Hotel  Al's Den  Ringlers Annex  Zeus Cafe

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