photos by Greg Cristman, words by BBG
Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, and the new incarnation of Swans played their first NYC show since reformation at Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Friday night, 10/8. They were joined by tour-mate Baby Dee and recent addition Ben Frost as support. The show was one of two NYC dates on a larger tour for the reactivated post-punk/noise/industrial pioneers (previous shows included Pop Montreal and the Black Cat in DC). Swans played their 2nd NYC show at Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night (sans Ben Frost, avec Baby Dee). Both NYC shows sold out in advance. The Brooklyn gig featured an afterhours party with Sasha Grey, Caleb (Sacred Bones), and DJ JonBenet (Prurient, Cold Cave) on the lower level. That drew its own separate crowd in addition to the post-show revelers.
Ben Frost's opening set was particularly impressive, mixing guitar acrobatics and laptop scientifics that took full use of the considerable soundsystem. It was a fantastic set; I normally have a hard time enduring solo laptop-musician/DJ sets, but watched the entire thing. Unfortunately I missed all of Baby Dee.
Swans blasted on stage with the opening thump of "No Words/No Thoughts", before transitioning into a bit of a reworked version of that song. Their set was overwhelmingly heavy with material from the incredible new My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (five of the eight tracks), but the band made stops by their earliest works too ("Sex, God, Sex" from Children of God, "Your Property" from Cop, "I Crawled" from Young God EP). Moving, crushing, beautiful, and magnetic, Michael Gira and Co delivered one of my favorite performances at a space that has hosted its share of memorable moments: Neurosis, sunn o))), Sleep, and Throbbing Gristle.
Don't believe the hype though; it wasn't quite as overwhelmingly loud as you have been lead to believe... not that it matters either way. It was/is always more about electric performance and there is no doubt that Swans delivered on a Friday night on a quiet street in Brooklyn.
More pictures and video from the Brooklyn show, with the Swans setlist, below..
Swans @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple 10.08.10
Swans - "Beautiful Child" @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple 10.08.10
Swans at Brooklyn Masonic Temple
No Words, No Thoughts
Sex, God, Sex