Posted in music | pictures on October 11, 2010

photos by Greg Cristman, words by BBG

Swans

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..

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Swans @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple 10.08.10

Swans - "Beautiful Child" @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple 10.08.10

Swans at Brooklyn Masonic Temple


Setlist
No Words, No Thoughts
Your Property
Sex, God, Sex
Jim
I Crawled
My Birth
Beautiful Child
Eden Prison
(encore)
Little Mouth

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Comments (42)

Baby Dee yelled at someone doing something in the front row. Did anybody see what?

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 11:19 AM

Went to the First and last shows of the tour...Philly and Bowery. While both were amazing, it was obvious that the final show was much tighter. SWANS Rule!!!

Ps- Philly was MUCH louder!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 11:27 AM

pps- The Bowery show was also approx. 30-40 mins longer than the Troc show. No Words/ No Thoughts was drawn out to around a half hour...so incredible!!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 11:30 AM

Is that Ricky Gervais?

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 11:56 AM

11:19 -- It seemed to me that she was calling someone out for photos or videotaping. Yay for Baby Dee, loved her set. Whole night was astonishing. By the way, for those who went to both shows, how was Bowery compared to Masonic?

Posted by Twigs | October 11, 2010 12:01 PM

SWANS also played "Beautiful Child" from Children of God at the BB.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 12:03 PM

the masonic show sent trent reznor back to nursery school...

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 12:22 PM

^ Because the Swans looked so old?

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 12:34 PM

BUBBA YAM h8s TWENT WEZNOR.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 12:39 PM

they played beautiful child at masonic too

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 12:47 PM

"Beautiful Child" at Masonic was unbelievably intense. "I Crawled" was another standout. Other highlights: Loved the style Hahn brought with his combed-back do and gum chewing. Norm W. had this priceless fuck-all-life empty stare, looked at crowd like bugs. & Gira walking in, gazing, & then promptly slapping his face for a halfminute.

Posted by Twigs | October 11, 2010 12:55 PM

man boobs

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 1:22 PM

Baby Dee very properly told a chatty young lady "I can't help it if people talk but please don't do it right in front of me."

Posted by lori | October 11, 2010 1:55 PM

Westberg looks OLD. Wow.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 2:15 PM

Gira seemed in good spirits at this show. Was it just me or was he hitting on/flirting with someone in between songs?

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 2:18 PM

yeah, baby dee laid into her in the middle of the song. so awesome

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 2:18 PM

cool gig poster

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 2:30 PM

masonic show was fucking great!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 2:52 PM

i wouldn't say gira was hitting on her, she was drunk and yelling sexual advances at him. he's just good at handling hecklers.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 3:23 PM

Please come to TX

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 3:36 PM

Nice to see they restocked their shirts. In Chicago, by the time Baby Dee was half over, the only Swans shirts left wouldn't have fit a nine-year-old.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 3:38 PM

Thanks for the clarification, 3:23. He seems to handle it well.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 4:06 PM

@3:23- it wasn't a heckler- it was a close friend of Michael's teasing him. It was very funny. "You have a beautiful mouth!"

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 4:15 PM

They didn't play Failure?

Posted by Sanskar | October 11, 2010 4:19 PM

@2:30- My poster looks esp cool being signed by all of swans.

Swans were all really cool and Michael spent some significant time at the merch table right after the show happily signing anything anybody gave him.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 4:55 PM

Thor: come to back to austin, bring swans.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 7:16 PM

A lot of BV comments these days about MEHrchandise.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 9:01 PM

4:15 are you guys talking about that fat, drunk, asshole to the right of the stage? I doubt she's a friend. That pig was obnoxious. Looked like a goth version of Divine. I've seen her at other shows acting like a total ass and fucking with people.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 10:01 PM

Bad news for BV commenters shocked by the aging process - the biggest shock is yet to come.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2010 11:48 PM

Dude... I thought the concert was ok, with the exception of 3 things:
1. They were playing with their back to the crowd... (either they are being rude or have stage fright)
2. Some of the songs weren't loud enough.
3. Those dudes are so old they made me crave prune juice.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2010 1:00 AM

Saw at bowerry : Fucking awesome!
No words no thoughts the juxtaposing of
the material was beyond cleaver creative it was brilliant! Like a beehive calling all little bees to their queen master chimed into a trance
n then finally all hitting the stage! Saw dee pre show
m said this was the one too see!!
She was dead on right!
She is cool in her own way n brilliant! Quiet melodies pre primordial non
wave was like a light appetizer before a huge heavy meal
scrumptious !!! Yummy! Gira still
has it going on n the band was one of the tightest I
have seen in years well
rehearsed' hope reznor saw one of these shows he needs too!!
All in all was a spectacular event, one of those shows not to miss n if u did too fucking bad ! Hopefully Gira will
come back again! He is incredible form n seems to
be loving every second !
Bravo!!!!
Jt

Posted by Jimitits | October 12, 2010 3:21 AM

10:12- shut the fuck up.

1. the bass player was the only one who consistently played with his back to the crowd.

2.There was no problem with the volume. It was just so clean it didn't sound loud until you left the venue.

3.Some day you'll be old too and I'll bet you won't be half as cool as Swans.

...so, stfu.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2010 3:32 AM

Fantastic show. Puleo blew my wig back; the man is a dynamo. I remember seeing him play with CSC and marveling at his skill and unique sound, but last weekend he redefined percussion.

Posted by Wacksman | October 12, 2010 9:51 AM

Wacksman, good call re: Puleo. Esp. dug how he sped up tempo at times during No Words. Huge energy, focus, power.

Posted by Twigs | October 12, 2010 10:40 AM

To 10/12 1:00 AM -- I echo 3:32 AM above: only the bass player really had his back to the audience. And often he was clearly synching/signalling with the drummer. Besides, I don't know about you, but I don't go to a Swans show needing a lot of bass player face-time. Boo hoo, a musician's not looking at me, wah.

The rest of yr comments are just typical looky-looky-i-made-a-funny comment-board attention grabs. Good work "Dude"!

Posted by Twigs | October 12, 2010 10:49 AM

not at all unfortunate that you missed baby dee

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2010 12:57 PM

yeah baby dee was mehjor lame

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2010 1:06 PM

Baby Dee made me feel like I was at some gay piano bar in the west village sipping martinis talking about the latest stock market tips with a fellow that has a mustache and stylish blazer.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2010 1:11 PM

Old is the new young, motherfuckers. Too bad you can't come up with anything half as good as SWANS. NOW DIE OHIO TRANSPLANT HIPSTER SCUM, DIE DIE DIE!!

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2010 2:18 PM

Phil Puleo is GOD

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2010 2:23 PM

Excellent show and yes the bass and drummer usually were responding to each other also in the past line ups, not putting backs to the crowd.

As someone said it was a fairly clear sound which it could have been louder but then again I wasnt in the front. Phil was great and was in Cop Shoot Cop especially the White Noise tour with his unique drum set up.

Sad there was at least a couple hundred people who just walked around constantly spilling drinks and didnt actually come for the show.
Must have been the trust fund rich East coast social butterfly scenesters.
Maybe thats what Norm was glaring at.

The new Swans album is well done and live it sounded very full.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2010 3:55 AM

10.12 @ 2:18,

Gotta agree with you... with the exception of the metal scene, most 20-something bands have me scratching my head. Listening to their shit is like eating a bar of deodorant soap.

Posted by old & happy | October 13, 2010 1:51 PM

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