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photos by Fred Pessaro // BBG, words by Andrew Sacher
Swans @ MHOW, 2/7/2013
Swans came to NYC for two sold-out shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg this week (Wednesday, 2/6, and Thursday, 2/7), scheduled to replace the one cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. The first night was with Marissa Nadler, and the second was with Devendra Banhart. Pictures and a review from night 1 are HERE, and pictures of Swans' set from night 2 are in this post. Devendra pictures are HERE. Meanwhile, here's another review of night 1:
"You may never see this moment again," Michael Gira warned the crowd on Wednesday night (2/6) at the first of two sold out Swans shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg. And even if you're one of the lucky ones who landed tickets for both nights, I'd be willing to bet what he said holds true. Unlike most other "rock shows" (if you could even call it that), Swans' shows aren't about songs, and I certainly couldn't give you any kind of setlist, not that it seemed like one mattered to Michael Gira and co. anyway. They played for about two hours last night, and I made out parts of "Mother of the World" and "The Seer" (both on 2012's The Seer), a much earlier (and the night's most punishing) cut, "Coward" from 1986's Holy Money, and I have it on pretty good account that they played two new songs, "To Be Kind" and "She Loves Us," which they've been playing on tour (videos of those songs from other cities are below).
But other than that, the show was about maniacal bandleader Michael Gira summoning his five musicians on stage to transform Music Hall of Williamsburg into an utter state of hell. They moved through passages upon passages of noise, simultaneously sounding like sonic near-death experiences and yet completely life-affirming. Michael preached more than sang, and played his guitar sometimes, but mostly wailed his arms in an orchestra-conductor-gone-Iggy-Pop fashion, screaming at his bandmates or sometimes just into thin air. Chords rarely changed, but rather washed over you (or completely crushed you) differently as time went on. Towards the end of the set, there were multiple times when it seemed like Swans were finished, only for them to take us to entirely new places. But when they finally did hit the lights and said their goodbyes, it made sense why none of the other moments ended the set. They may have been climactic moments, but only at the very end did they reach a totally resolving state.
More night 2 pictures and those videos below...
Swans - "To Be Kind" in Kansas City - 9/19/12
Swans - "She Loves Us" (part 1/2) in Copenhagen - 11/23/12
Swans - "She Loves Us" (part 2/2) in Copenhagen - 11/23/12