Posted in music | pictures on February 7, 2013

by Caroline Harrison

Swans @ MHOW, 2/6/2013
Swans

New York legends Swans played the first of two sold out shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night (2/6), supported by singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler. The shows replaced the ones that Hurricane Sandy so rudely postponed last October.

Nadler's melancholy set was a nice counterpoint to the Swans set to come. She played solo, finger-picking an acoustic guitar to accompany her airy soprano voice. Classifying Nadler as folk doesn't quite capture the depth and breadth of her influences. Her vocals sit somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Shara Worden. Her performance was subtle, almost economical, and it was a nice reminder that much of Swans' newer material does draw on folk influences, even if Swans' music comes in a more aggressive package.

There's something uniquely New York about Swans. They have the grit and fear of 1980s New York baked into their sound. Though their sound has morphed pretty widely over their long and complicated history, Swans retains the quintessential elements. Gira sneers and snarls his way through savage and abusive vocal patterns. He's equal parts front man and conductor, prone to now infamous tantrums when the band isn't meeting his expectations, but the Gira I saw last night was in a downright genial mood. He threw a towel at percussionist Thor Harris to get his attention, but that was the closest Gira came to cussing out anyone on stage.

The band played for just over two hours, incorporating a fair amount of new, unreleased material into their set. They were chest-crushingly loud, and I could feel waves of sound trying to use my abdominal cavity as an echo chamber. A little after midnight, when it seemed like the band could keep going for at least another half hour, Swans finished playing. Gira thanked the audience, and announced, "We are finished for the night. We appreciate your attention."

Swans play again tonight, this time supported by Devendra Banhart, the original opener for the October show. Bring earplugs.

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Marissa Nadler

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Comments (37)

They guys seem to play every weekend.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 2:42 PM

*yawns*

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 2:43 PM

setlist?

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 2:45 PM

Been a fan for quite awhile, and I'm almost as old as Gira, but this was the first time I've ever seen them for some unfortunate reason. Don't even know what to say, was just amazing, everything I've heard about them and more. With all the seeming noise and chaos, every note amongst the maelstrom seemed purposeful and perfect. Only negative is that I realize how lame half the other stuff I see really is. If you're going tonight, they're selling the recent live double CD for 15 bucks autographed by Gira, good deal. And yeah, earplugs are a good idea.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 2:45 PM

anyone who's followed Gira/Swans is aware of how he draws on folk/alt influences. You just have to listen to his fantastic work with Angels of Light or watch some of the great acoustic vids on youtube.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 2:47 PM

spyro gyra?

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 2:51 PM

what were the set times?

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 2:54 PM

It was my second time seeing the Swans, and every time I saw someone wearing earplugs at the show I thought... 'pussy.'

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:01 PM

The fucking mosh pit during The Seer was SIIIICCCCKKKKKK last night. Sorry to all you people that I kicked in the head.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:02 PM

Set times were 9 and 10ish.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:02 PM

"It was my second time seeing the Swans, and every time I saw someone wearing earplugs at the show I thought... 'pussy.'"

Toughest guy in the room, ladies and gentlemen.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:02 PM

nadler was on from about 9 - 9:45, swans played from 10 to about 12:15

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:09 PM

2:54 - I already got a heads-up for tonight. Tonight's set time for Swans isn't until 11, in case you're worried about getting there.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:09 PM

"It was my second time seeing the Swans, and every time I saw someone wearing earplugs at the show I thought... 'pussy.'"

So you don't think that at other shows?

HEARING LOSS IS COOL

Posted by Hubert Snodgrass | February 7, 2013 3:16 PM

3:09 - you're a fucking liar. they go on at 10:45 tonight. asshole.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:17 PM

I can't make it and have extra 2 tix for tonight. Pls email me if interested.

Posted by Swans Tix | February 7, 2013 3:17 PM

swans3200@gmail.com

Posted by Swans Tix | February 7, 2013 3:26 PM

make sure you get to the show b4 6:00

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:30 PM

For future reference. Shows at MHOW/Bowery start one hour after doors. ALWAYS. Budget 30-45 minutes for openers, do the math.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:44 PM

"It was my second time seeing the Swans, and every time I saw someone wearing earplugs at the show I thought... 'pussy.'"

Well, then I'll be a pussy without ringing in my ears. Every time I saw someone not wearing earplugs I thought....idiot.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 3:55 PM

as someone who suffers from pretty bad tinnitus because I never wore earplugs for any of the hundreds of metal/hardcore shows I saw in my teens and 20s nor for any of the hundreds of band rehearsals I gotta say anyone who would criticize someone for wearing earplugs to a fucking Swans show is a goddamn moron.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 4:38 PM

why is marissa nadler always hiding her great juggs?

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 4:43 PM

setlist?

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 5:36 PM

Great shot of that brick wall.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 5:37 PM

god DAMN marissa nadler is gorgeous

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 5:42 PM

Swans show was great.

That 12 year old boy opening was horrible.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 6:03 PM

devendra was horrible last time i him

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 6:19 PM

I always knew Gira was a fucking pussy

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 7:21 PM

multiple people in this band look like the guy from Phantasm

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 9:28 PM

I dont know where you were sitting but from my vantage point at the edge of the stage he was anything but genial toward the bass player and to a lesser extent, Puleo. There was a lot of yelling,"instructions". disgusted head shaking and pissed off looks. This guy rides the band pretty hard.

Right before they closed up for the night, which felt relatively early compared to other shows of there's that I have seen, there was one last disgusted look and he yelled "we're done" at the band.

That being said, it was a great show, especially the newer songs. There was one point where Gira just kept on running across the stage and jumping into a strum of the guitar, over and over again, really wringing himself out.

Posted by Andrew | February 7, 2013 11:19 PM

I see my orange hat.

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 11:43 PM

11:43, do you know 6:19? I ask because I'm pretty sure that what 6:19 meant to say, but omitted, is: "devendra was horrible the last time I rubbed one out into an orange hat with him".

Posted by Anonymous | February 7, 2013 11:58 PM

3:01- wow, you sure are extreme. 3:55- exactly.

Anyone who doesn't wear earplugs to a show this loud (like Neurosis, the feedback portion of My Bloody Valentine's set, Godflesh, etc) is a fool.

Posted by Anonymous | February 8, 2013 11:38 AM

Did they play the same setlist last night? Wednesday's show was amazing:)

Posted by Anonymous | February 8, 2013 11:58 AM

4:38/11:38 if you are worried about hearing damage don't go to a Swans show. You can call me a fool/moron all you want but you all remain a bunch of pussies. Which, frankly is not surprising from this comment section.

Posted by Anonymous | February 8, 2013 3:20 PM

I so wish I was there.

Posted by catering winnipeg | June 28, 2013 7:22 PM

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