Posted in metal | music | pictures on October 11, 2012

by Fred Pessaro // BBG

Swans @ Bowery Ballroom, 10/10/2012
Swans

No alarm, no text message notification, no construction site noise, no rowdy kids outside my window. Something far more sinister jarred me awake at 6AM on Wednesday... the thundering jackhammer of a migraine beating down on my head. My world was collapsing. After several hurried trips to the bathroom to vomit profusely, I shut all of the shades and tried to soundproof my room. Mental note: invest in a silent coffin.

Though my symptoms had mostly subsided by early that afternoon, I was still in positively no shape to see one of my favorite bands live later that night at Bowery Ballroom (10/10), the pounding, cro-magnon gods of no-wave known as Swans. I'm a man of my word though, so there I was on Delancey St. at the moment doors opened. Not to sound anything but blessed, but sometimes it's a good thing to force yourself out.

Easing into my night were the simple, the gypsy-laden carnival sounds of A Hawk & A Hacksaw who were light and fun, peppered with a shirtless dance from masked men. Accordian, dulcimer and electric violin were the main weapons of choice for the duo, who also employed an odd cross-breed between a violin and a horn that seemed to work off of contact mics and a single broken violin string. Regardless of instrumentation, A Hawk & a Hacksaw was far less brooding than Swans on their lightest day, but still fascinating and worth a watch. I felt the need to wear castanets.

Clad in black, Michael Gira just oozes intensity. His square jaw seemingly comes off the hinges for his anguished screams and he heaves his thrashing body, leaving trails of white hair in streaks behind him. Backed by a crew of five including a percussionist, drummer, guitar, bass and lap steel, Gira proceeded to hammer his way through new material at Bowery Ballroom last night. If there is one thing that Swans know that many others probably should, it is the value of a good crescendo. Swans take the lightest moments and build upon them gently, eventually crashing down in a full on primitive sledgehammer assault. Swans are a singular breed of brutality.

In the midst of a positively amazing set from Gira & company, I came to and remembered the hours that lead up to the Swans show... the migraine, the doubling over and subsequent blackout and isolation from society. The aches and pain were gone. I may have figured out a new cure for recovery... smash away the pain.

Pictures and the setlist from Bowery Ballroom are below. If you missed it last night, Swans play a pair of NYC dates at the end of October.

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

A Hawk & A Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

A Hawk and a Hacksaw

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

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Swans

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Swans

Swans

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Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

Swans

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Swans

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SWANS Setlist 10/10/12
To Be Kind
Avatar
She Loves Us
Coward
The Seer
Nathalie
The Apostate

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Comments (71)

Hey guess what? No one gives a shit how you feel or your life or wants to read about you crying like a little bitch that you had a hangover!

GET BETTER AT YOUR JOB YOU DOUCHE.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:22 AM

MORE THOR.

Posted by King Butt | October 11, 2012 11:23 AM

How long did Swans play for? Also should I bring earplugs? Lastly, what are the chances they'll play a diff set if I go see them at Bowery and MHOW in couple weeks?

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:23 AM

bring earplugs. or don't (but you will feel the ringgggggg) and they played from 10 til just after midnight. I think that every time I've seen them in the past 3 years theyve played a different set.

Posted by tiredteachernextday | October 11, 2012 11:25 AM

They played just about 2 hours. Bring earplugs.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:27 AM

It's spelled "THEE Swans."

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:30 AM

great photos! are they posted at a higher resolution anywhere?

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:30 AM

I suggest that instead of earplugs, you bring cones to put in your ears (facing outward) so that you can really get the full feeling. Swans are so quiet that otherwise you'll miss something.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:30 AM

Seems like they've been doing the same set each night for this tour. Regardless, I'd see them 2 nights in a row. Simply amazing live band!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:35 AM

Have fun with your Revelation Records nostalgia, THIS is the real hardcore!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:35 AM

Someone get Fred Pessaro some Vagisil.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:36 AM

wow... 11:22 has anger issues, or some weird obsessive vendetta. Chill out dude!

Posted by Doc Brown | October 11, 2012 11:37 AM

I too, am a tired teacher the next day. But always worth it. SWANS!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:37 AM

I am an older gent. and heard of these guys before, but never listened to the music.. man did I miss out. First time seeing them was at this show.. I love the new album... I went back and heard alot of their older stuff too... unreal... yes.. you NEED earplugs.. not quite My Bloody Valentine loud.. but you will mess up your ears if you don't have them in.. even standing in back it was REALLY, REALLY loud. You should be using earplugs at all shows.. trust me, tinnitus is NOT fun.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:38 AM

Fred--I'm glad you rallied from your migraine, and I'm glad you enjoyed the show. Let that be your last migraine! Thanks for a great review!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:40 AM

I made so much money off of this show. Hell yeah!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:42 AM

lol I agree with 11:22 music journalism is so lame these days, we care about the music makers, not the lives of those writing about music, these days its all ego ego ego e-go...away!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:44 AM

You do realize you're laughing at Thor, right? You silly little know-nothing d-bag.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:45 AM

^ Doubt it, considering anyone who didn't get tickets to this show could have just bought tickets to either of the other two NYC dates.

Anyway, show was tremendous. Earplugs were necessary but I let a bit of sound leak in to better hear the chimes etc.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:46 AM

Joe Dirt w/ a twinkie problem.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:48 AM

Thor is an all-around great guy! Met him after a Shearwater show and he was nothing but approachable and a genuinely good dude! Rock on!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:51 AM

NO ONE SHALL LULZ AT THOR.

THOR IS....THOR. HOW DARE YOU LAUGH.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:51 AM

Yeah, I was sick too, so I sold my ticket and bought one for one of the other shows. Please spare us the drama.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:00 PM

Google "How to Tour in a Band or Whatever by Thor Harris" its a great read!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:05 PM

Thank you 1125 and 1127!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:08 PM

LULZ anonymously but would be scared to even peep a word around Gira or Thor. Pu$$y!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:08 PM

I thought that migraines were strictly a female problem? I don't live in New York and have never met BBG - is BBG a woman?

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:10 PM

12:10 - No, but I bet he has bigger tits than most women.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:20 PM

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/img/music/swans/boweryballroom2/32.jpg

His name is really Thor! Lulz, he even has a little beta male hammer.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:23 PM

A mild dose of psilocybin (or any psychedelic tryptamine, really - psilocybin, LSD, or any number of experimental synthetic analogs) would do wonders for your migraine if you took it upon onset. I'm talking sub-threshold doses, you'd barely feel a neurochemical tickle. Google "Cluster-Busters" - anecdotal evidence and amateur experimentation have yielded lots of results in various migraine communities showing that sub-threshold doses of tryptamines that act on the 5-HT2A receptor can go a long way towards easing headache pain.

Posted by Tumbleweed | October 11, 2012 12:24 PM

I agree - only lightweight bitches get migraines. If you really know how to rock the funky beat, you don't allow that shit to strike you.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:32 PM

i always had a fetish for men with big tits XOXO

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:35 PM

Amazing show, was dragged there by friends, so happy I was there. That guy Michael was very...expressive

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:50 PM

HEY

I'm LULZ/amirite/Saint Vitus glory hole/call everyone sausage/Buckeye guy, and SWANS are one of the few bands I actually like.

Also,

N
I
G
G
E
R.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:56 PM

^ well, there you go ... Swans fans are racists.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:58 PM

lol white people

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:58 PM

Personally I prefer MASSIVE doses of tryptamines.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 12:59 PM

Great show. I did earplugs in for half the show, and out the other half. Near the end of their shows, you just need plugs, it is a fact.

Too bad Gira had some mic problems--got to give him credit, he was being electrocuted but didn't walk off stage the bitch JW--but other than that it was great sound. I still feel their sound last year at ATP was pretty nuts. And as they said, most of the set is new unrecorded stuff, then the rest is from the Seer, except for Coward. But all in all, great show and digging the new tracks.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 1:29 PM

"^ Doubt it, considering anyone who didn't get tickets to this show could have just bought tickets to either of the other two NYC dates."

Not to mention they sold some tickets at the door last night and there were plenty going around CL if you really needed to go. The usual fake scalpers posting on here that they made so much money reselling. That is what this blog has become. Liars, fakes and of course the clueless neophytes reviewing shows like this prized jackass:

"Amazing show, was dragged there by friends, so happy I was there. That guy Michael was very...expressive"


Oh and can't forget the bad writing by the authors. Nice try at being Lester Bangs.


Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 1:32 PM

The other night I tripped a nice continental drift divide. Mount St. Edelite.
Leonard Bernstein. Leonid Breshnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs.
Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom! You symbiotic, patriotic,
slam, but neck, right? Right.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 1:50 PM

and of course the clueless neophytes reviewing shows like this prized jackass:

"Amazing show, was dragged there by friends, so happy I was there. That guy Michael was very...expressive"


I agree with your other points but NOT this! The guy obviously didn't know Swans but went and had a great time!! A new fan is born! get over yourself and save bashing for the trolls not people who know less than you, your highness!

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 2:08 PM

Much agreed 2:08.

If you weren't alive to see Dylan in the 60s, Swans in the 80s or whoever, does it make you less of a fan to see these artists today? No. I am sure Gira is thrilled to see new people coming to their shows...that said..."you fucking people make me sick" is Gira directly speaking to the hyper-pretentious assholes that make going to shows insufferable.

"I wrote the song when I was just surfing the net as people tend to do these days, looking at music sites, and a side of me was looking at these fashionable hipster young people and I just kind of wanted to murder them or kill them." -Gira

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 2:20 PM

2:08/2:20,

Nothing wrong with being a new fan. Good for them and welcome to the party. The problem is they are uninformed and that is fine but this used to be a site where the informed and knowledgeable gave their opinons on shows and that is why myself and many others flocked to it. Rather than go to the 1000000 other blogs with idiot know nothings posting the show was "amazeballs" or "they killed it" Unfortunately those creatures have migrated over here now.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 4:10 PM

I agree 4:10, but alas that is the internet. The amount of people who have invaded various fan sites and trading communities I was active in have just made them places I ignore. Unfortunately, I come here for live date details, calendar updates and a few chuckles. But far as good live reviews or intelligible conversation? Pass.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 4:22 PM

Swans are amazeballs. They killed it.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 4:22 PM

Great show. To the fellow who asked, there is an almost zero percent chance of a different set. Most you can hope for is an encore, which they did not do last night. Going back to at least 1985, Swans tours have almost always consisted of fixed setlists- there is basically never variation. But it is still worth it every time, easily.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 4:30 PM

The Swans suck so muck fucking dick. I payed to see this shit and all it was was that old fuck pounding away at one or two chords on songs that seemed like they'd never end. My nephew could play that shit. Not to mention that the ridiculous volume made it just about impossible to hear anything clearly. I won't be making that mistake again. Worse show I've ever been to.

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 5:57 PM

1:32/4:10 you suck brah

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:19 PM

Thor, beta male hammer of the godz

Posted by Anonymous | October 11, 2012 11:49 PM

That stupid fucking Orange amp completely ruins the on-stage aesthetics.

http://www.electricamp.com/the-electricamp-tube-amp-gallery.html

^ Step your game up, Gira.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2012 7:55 AM

That gear looks fucking stupid

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2012 8:34 AM

Swans fans are racists.

Posted by Kenda | October 12, 2012 8:46 AM

"HEY

I'm LULZ/amirite/Saint Vitus glory hole/call everyone sausage/Buckeye guy, and SWANS are one of the few bands I actually like."

No wonder Gira hates scarves, even though they've suddenly started to flood the shows and become "fans" a few years ago.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2012 9:30 AM

^sma @ buckeye shrimper

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2012 9:51 AM

shakin' your ass? I'm tellin' you, I don't go that way.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2012 10:09 AM

^ It literally took you months to come up with that, Buckeye?

Poor ol' Buckeye.

:-(

No, wait.

TURBOLULZ

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2012 1:00 PM

*Whoooosh*

8:34, my POINT was that Gira could have what ever he wanted custom made to fit whatever aesthetic quality he's going for.


Cunt.

Posted by Anonymous | October 12, 2012 7:05 PM

Oh I thought your point was that you're a fucking moron.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2012 12:24 AM

"I thought"

^ lol, probably not, amirite?

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2012 2:00 AM

Great photos! Simply amazing live band!

Posted by шины в минске | October 13, 2012 2:46 AM

amiriteamiriteamiriteamirite

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2012 11:44 AM

^ Steamed sausage.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2012 4:11 PM

^ Flamed scarf.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2012 5:04 PM

yawn.

Posted by Anonymous | October 13, 2012 7:00 PM

I'm glad you remembered to photograph the merchandise table. Not sure I would consider your coverage to be complete without it.

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2012 4:19 PM

That violin horn thingy, is a horn violin, of the romanian sort, a spin off of the german Stroh Violin invented in the pre electronic age of music, when gramaphones reigned over canned music. The broken string was a horse hair tied to the violin string and with pressure it creates that unique sound invented by Nicolae "culai" a dead violinist from Clejani.

Posted by Chase Kolozsy | October 31, 2012 12:03 AM

I love it when hipsters expose their racism. Lucky for yous your behind a computer screen anonymous. Enjoy your privlieges!

Posted by Tobikat | November 23, 2012 12:27 PM

Thanks for article. Flex your muscles

Posted by Benny Gilbert | June 17, 2013 5:57 PM

Looks super fun. That guy in the first picture plays amazing guitar.

Posted by catering winnipeg | July 10, 2013 2:36 PM

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