Entries tagged with: SWANS

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Swans at Bowery Ballroom earlier this week (more by Amanda Hatfield)

For the third year in a row, Basilica Hudson's Creative Directors Melissa Auf Der Maur and Tony Stone are working in collaboration with Pitchfork Senior Editor/Director of Events Brandon Stosuy and Brian De Ran of Gleam House and Leg Up Management to program BasilicaSoundScape, a carefully curated two-day program featuring a wide range of music, visual art, and literature that aims for specific connections and overlaps instead of "festival"-style overload.
Hudson, NY two-day festival Basilica Sound Scape will return this year on September 12 & 13. The initial lineup was just announced and it's already shaping up to be a great one with Swans, Deafheaven, Tim Hecker, Julia Holter and NYC's Balinese gamelan ensemble Gamelan Dharma Swara. Early bird 2-day passes are on sale now for $50 through June 15. After that, $35 single day passes go on sale and weekend passes are upped to $60. Stay tuned for the rest of the lineup.

A few videos and the flyer below...

Continue reading "Basilica Sound Scape 2014 initial lineup & tickets (Swans, Tim Hecker, Deafheaven, Julia Holter, more)"

by Andrew Sacher

Swans at Bowery Ballroom - 5/18/14 (more by Amanda Hatfield)

"As you can see we're playing mostly new songs and really fucked up versions of old songs," said Michael Gira during last night's Music Hall of Williamsburg show (5/19), the second of two sold out Swans shows in NYC on their current tour. It was true. You could hardly call this the To Be Kind tour -- those songs were all mostly played on The Seer tour -- the only real recognizable parts of that album played were "A Little God In My Hands," "Oxygen" and a small portion of "Bring the Sun." Otherwise the two-hour set included "The Apostate" from the The Seer, and three new songs that appear to (at least tentatively) be titled "Frankie M," "Don't Go" and "Black Hole Man."

If it sounds like I'm saying I was disappointed, far from it. It doesn't really matter what Swans' setlist is because every show they put on is a unique, intense experience. When the majority of other bands with classic material dating back to the '80s and '90s (like Swans) get on stage and don't play any of it, there's likely to be some cranky concert goers. But Swans have become a legacy band working entirely on their own terms, far from the type to do a nostalgia tour. And with the incredible creative burst they've had since their 2010 reformation, they wouldn't need to. The current six-piece version of Swans that recorded their last three records is literally a different a band (this lineup doesn't appear on any other Swans album), and it really feels like they're working with the passion of a new group. The way they work out new material on the road and are seemingly over it once it's recorded and released is a tactic tons of small local bands use, but hardly ever seen from a band at Swans' level.

And just like the To Be Kind material did on The Seer tour, these new songs sound great. "Frankie M" actually had a conventional chord change, which, in a set where that happened zero other times, ends up being one of the least expected moves Swans made. "Don't Go" evolved into the kind of lengthy psychedelic trip that "The Seer" and "Bring the Sun" provided at previous shows and "Black Hole Man," played as the alternate ending to "Bring the Sun," replaced the freakout shrieks of "Toussaint L'Ouverture" with Gira's demonically spiritual chants.

Swans' tourmate Jenny Hval and her two-piece backing band opened the show with music that was comparatively softer but similarly dark and uniquely distant from most modern trends. Swans' openers always feel well curated, and Jenny was no different.

We didn't get pictures of the MHOW show, but we did post pictures of Sunday's Bowery Ballroom show. Check out more of those HERE and the setlist from MHOW below...

Continue reading "Swans wrapped up their NYC run at MHOW (setlist, review)"

photos by Amanda Hatfield

Swans @ Bowery Ballroom - 5/18/14

The almighty Swans brought their current tour to their hometown of NYC last night (5/18) for a stop at Bowery Ballroom, their first of two sold out shows here. The shows are in support of their massive, intense new album To Be Kind, and much like how Swans played a lot of that album on The Seer tour, Michael Gira & co. are already unleashing new songs on this one, "Frankie M" and "Don't Go." Opening the show was Norwegian art pop musician Jenny Hval, whose music is much quieter than Swans but was still a great fit (and the crowd treated her with respect). Pictures of the show are in this post.

Swans and Jenny do it again at Music Hall of Williamsburg tonight (5/19), which is sold out.

More pictures from Bowery Ballroom below...

Continue reading "Swans & Jenny Hval played their first of two NYC shows (pics from Bowery Ballroom)"

by Andrew Sacher


The colossal new Swans album, To Be Kind comes out on May 13 via Young God, and we've just got another taste of it. Following the funky "A Little God in My Hands," they've just revealed another one you can move your feet too (again, as far as Swans songs go at least), "Oxygen." Of course it's also utterly maniacal. Check it out, via The Quietus, below.

Swans' tour with Jenny Hval hits NYC on May 18 at Bowery Ballroom and May 19 at MHOW. Tickets for those shows are still available.

Continue reading "Swans release "Oxygen" from 'To Be Kind' (listen)"

by Andrew Sacher

Swans at Warsaw in 2013 (more by Caroline Harrison)

As mentioned, NYC experimental rock legends Swans will release their new album, To Be Kind, which features St. Vincent, Cold Specks and Little Annie, on May 13 via Young God. Over the weekend they released a track from it, "A Little God in My Hands," which is pretty catchy and funky as far as Swans songs go. Check that out, along with all 6 panels of the album's cover art, below.

The band also have a previously discussed tour, which hits NYC on May 18 at Bowery Ballroom and May 19 at MHOW with Norway's Jenny Hval. Tickets for both NYC shows are still available. The band also just announced more North American dates. No others in NYC, but there's a few new Northeast dates in July including a New Haven show.

Updated dates are listed, with the new song and cover arts, below...

Continue reading "listen to the new Swans song +++ updated tour dates"


NXNE returns to various Toronto venues from June 13-22, and since we last spoke the lineup has expanded. It now includes Spoon, Sleigh Bells, Spiritualized, tUnE-yArDs, A$AP Ferg, Metz, Ryan Hemsworth, Swans, Goat, Oneohtrix Point Never, Fuck Buttons, Low, Tim Hecker, Eagulls, Glasser, Kelela, Ratking, Perfect Pussy, Small Black, Le1f, The Pizza Underground, Swearin', Dan Croll, DJ Jonathan Toubin, Astro, Juan Wauters, Mutual Benefit, Guerilla Toss, Calvin Love, Alvvays, Hunters, Saint Rich and more Those join previously announcd artists like St. Vincent, Speedy Ortiz, Danny Brown, Courtney Barnett, Mac DeMarco and more. Badges and wristbands are still on sale.

Swans at Warsaw in 2013 (more by Caroline Harrison)

NYC experimental rock vets Swans have a new album featuring St. Vincent and others on the way titled To Be Kind (due 5/13 via Young God), and though we're still waiting on a full tour, the band have just announced two hometown shows following Michael Gira's solo tour. The NYC shows happen on May 18 at Bowery Ballroom and May 19 at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Opening both of those shows is Norway's Jenny Hval, who in addition to also having a song called "The Seer," is sure to be an excellent prepper for Swans' earth-shattering set. Tickets for those shows go on sale Friday (2/14) at noon with an AmEx presale starting Wednesday (2/12) at noon. All currently known dates are listed below.

UPDATE: More dates announced, all of which are listed below.

In addition to the new Swans album, the band's 1989 goth/baroque/folk album, Burning World (that Gira is not a fan of), is being reissued on vinyl via the 1972 label on March 4. You can pre-order it now via Midheaven.

All dates are listed, with a couple videos, below...

Continue reading "Swans playing US shows w/ Jenny Hval after Gira's solo tour"

"Recording with Michael Gira and Swans was a dream come true. Proud to have been a part of an epicly great record. #johncongleton" - St. Vincent

by Andrew Sacher

Swans at Warsaw in 2013 (more by Caroline Harrison)

Swans are finally set to follow up their excellent 2012 LP The Seer with a new album, To Be Kind, on May 13 via Michael Gira's Young God label in North American and Mute worldwide. Gira points out that some of the material was developed during their 2012/13 tour, so though the full tracklist hasn't been revealed yet, it seems likely that the title track is the opening song on Swans' recent live album, Not Here / Not Now. Another song from that live album, "Bring the Sun," has been confirmed for the new LP too.

Excitingly, the album features vocals "throughout the record" from Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent (!), plus their Mute labelmate Cold Specks and cabaret singer Little Annie, who has opened for Swans before. Gira produced the album with John Congleton, who also produced the new St. Vincent album. Like The Seer, this one will be just over two hours long.

For this album Gira will be joined by Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris, and Christopher Pravdica.

The only currently announced Swans date is ATP Iceland, but Gira just announced a solo tour of Europe. All of those dates are listed, along with a live video of "To Be Kind," below...

Continue reading "Swans announce new album, 'To Be Kind,' featuring St. Vincent, Cold Specks, and Little Annie"

by Doug Moore

Young Widows at Le Poisson Rouge, 2013 (more by Caroline Harrison)

Though Young Widows have only been around since 2006 and only have three LPs under their belts, they already feel like something of an institution -- noisy rock music is becoming increasingly popular, and their ventures into the field have been as strong as anyone's.

Young Widows have also changed their approach substantially with each album, which makes their upcoming two-night NYC stand at Saint Vitus on 1/26 and 1/27 exciting. On Sunday the 26th (tix here), they'll be playing their as-yet-unreleased fourth album Easy Pain in its entirety, with a supporting set from longtime Swans guitarist Norman Westberg. On Monday the 27th (tix here), they'll be trotting out their second album (and my personal favorite) Old Wounds, with support from Phantom Family Halo. They'll be doing the same thing at The Boot & Saddle in Philly on 1/28 and 1/29, with Easy Pain & support from Fight Amp on the 28th (tix here) and Old Wounds plus Pygmy Lush on the 29th (tix here).

Stream a few Old Wounds-era Young Widows jams below...

Continue reading "Young Widows playing upcoming LP & 'Old Wounds' in full in NYC & Philly w/ various openers (dates)"

Starred at The Paramount in July (more by Greg Cristman)

NYC goth label Pendu Sound has announced that it will do its CMJ showcase at Europa on October 17 this year. It's a lineup of all local duos, including Starred, Tempers, and Azar Swan (whose members were both in Religious to Damn). Tickets for the showcase on sale now.

Meanwhile, Tempers have other hometown shows coming up too, including a previously mentioned Union Pool (9/13) show with Xeno & Oaklander and Bootblacks (tickets); and another supporting Martin Rev (of Suicide) at his Glasslands (10/9) show with Infinity Shred (tickets). Stream their recent "Strange Harvest" single and their cover of Swans' "Killing For Company," below.

Meanwhile, Starred recently made a video for "LA Drugs" off 2012's Prison to Prison EP, and they had one of the standout tracks on this year's Sub Pop 1000 compilation. We recently caught them in Brooklyn and Long Island on their tour with Courtney Love.

All streams below...

Continue reading "Tempers playing Pendu CMJ w/ Starred & Azar Swan, opening for Xeno & Oaklander and Martin Rev (of Suicide)"

photos by Amanda Hatfield

Swans / Solange / fans
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Soft spoken indie rockers Belle and Sebastian were a reprieve of sorts to festival goers who had spent the day seeing abrasive rock bands and the eardrum-shattering Swans set earlier in the afternoon (I forgot to bring earplugs...). A slight drizzle started around the band's fourth or fifth song but did not cut the show short like yesterday. Frontman Stuart Murdoch charmed audience members with his kind words, stating Chicago is much more relaxing than New York. Murdoch also engaged with audience members, inviting fans on stage, and even letting one fan draw on his face with mascara. Despite performing in a large festival setting during the headlining slot, the band managed to play one of the most intimate shows of the day. [BV Chicago]
Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 continued on Saturday (7/20) with its second of three days. Day two featured a good deal of bands on the heavy/intense side including Swans, Savages, Metz, Pissed Jeans, and White Lung; some indie legends like Belle & Sebastian, Low, and The Breeders; and some representation from the electronic/R&B world too, including Solange, Rustie, Andy Stott, and Ryan Hemsworth. Of course there were even more artists rounding out the lineup, and pictures from the second day are in this post. Even more are on BV Chicago.

If you haven't been keeping up with our coverage of Pitchfork festival, day 1 pictures and review are HERE, and more pictures are HERE and HERE. More from day 2 below...

Continue reading "Pitchfork Fest 2013 day 2 in pics: Belle & Sebastian, Solange, Low, Breeders, Swans, Metz, Merchandise, Rustie & more"

Pitchfork Festival 2012 (more by Fred Pessaro)

As mentioned, Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival is returning to Union Park from July 19-21 with sets from Bjork, Joanna Newsom, Belle & Sebastian, R. Kelly, Solange, Rustie, Low, The Breeders, Swans, Savages, Merchandise, Julia Holter, KEN mode, White Lung, TNGHT, Evian Christ, Waxahatchee, El-P, Killer Mike, and more across three stages (Red, Blue, and Green). The set times for the festival have now been announced, and you can check out the full day-by-day schedule below.

3-day passes are sold out, but single day tickets are still available.

Continue reading "Pitchfork Festival announces full 2013 schedule"

by Caroline Harrison


The Northside Festival kicked off last night (June 14) with a number of performances across north Brooklyn, including Swans and Chelsea Wolfe at the Warsaw. Wolfe played her haunting, mellow set better suited to a quieter, smaller venue, but it provided a pleasant contrast for the aural onslaught of Swans.

"Fun" is not a word you usually hear used to describe the infamous New York band Swans. They formed in the early 80s when much of New York City -- and famously Alphabet City, where they practiced -- was a horrifying shit-hole. Their early material embodies the stress, the pain, the aggression, the terror of living in the city at that time. They play painfully loud live shows. Enigmatic front man Michael Gira is known for throwing fits on stage. The first time I saw them play, he stopped a performance mid-song to yell at multi-instrumentalist Thor Harris.

But during last night's performance, the band was visibly enjoying themselves.

I saw band members actually smile at one another. Craggy pedal steel player Christoph Hahn pulled faces at Thor. Michael Gira cracked jokes. When taking their bows, Gira even called Thor Harris "the hairiest nipples in the west." (... Accurate)

Yet their music was still as punishing as ever. Those foolish enough not to bring earplugs most certainly regret it today. Early in the set Gira sneered through the menacing "Coward." The band hammered out a fifty-minute version of "the Seer," the title track off their last album.

Tonight Torche, KEN mode, Lo-Pan, and Inter Arma play the Invisible Oranges showcase at 285 Kent. Greg Ginn's Black Flag plays Warsaw with The Men, among others (not to be confused with FLAG, even though you probably wish you could forget both bands ever "reformed") . Check out our guide to this year's Northside Festival for other awesome stuff that's happening, including the free McCarren Park shows.

More photos from Warsaw are below...

Continue reading "Swans & Chelsea Wolfe played Warsaw at Northside Fest (pics)"

by Andrew Sacher

Chelsea Wolfe

The artfully gothy Chelsea Wolfe already has two great albums and an acoustic LP under her belt, and she's set to release a new album, Pain Is Beauty, on September 3 via Sargent House. Chelsea hasn't revealed any full tracks from it, but you can hear some snippets in an album trailer below. It's short, but from the sound of those clips, there's plenty to be excited about.

As mentioned, Chelsea Wolfe will open for Swans at Warsaw on June 13 as part of the Northside Festival, which is a great (and terrifying) pairing. Tickets for that show are still available, or you can try to get in with your Northside Badge.

After that show, Chelsea will take a couple months off, and then kick off a full North American tour beginning with her slot at LA's FYF Fest. That tour brings her back to NYC for a headlining show at Bowery Ballroom on September 13. Tickets for that show are not on sale yet, but you can check Ticketmaster for updates.

All dates are listed, along with the album trailer and tracklist, below...

Continue reading "Chelsea Wolfe announces new album & tour (dates & trailer)"

Primavera Sound

Barcelona's Primavera Sound festival kicked off yesterday (5/22) and it's currently streaming at the festival's YouTube channel. As of this post (around 4:20 EST on 5/23), Dinosaur Jr. are currently on and will be followed by The Postal Service, Grizzly Bear, Phoenix, and Animal Collective. Other bands streaming this weekend include The Jesus & Mary Chain, James Blake, Swans, Dead Can Dance, Wu-Tang Clan, Hot Chip, and more.

Head to Youtube for the stream/full schedule, or watch the stream embedded below...

Continue reading "Primavera Sound 2013 underway (stream it live now)"

Pharmakon at Drone Activity in Progress (more by PSquared Photography)

Pharmakon's tour schedule has increased a bit recently, including adding a string of dates with Swans (!), though not at the NYC appearance. However, Pharmakon is scheduled to play this weekend (5/25) at The Rink with Var and in middle June as part of a late night show during Northside Festival on 6/15 with Lust for Youth.

Pharmakon has released the new track "Ache" from the Abandon LP on Sacred Bones. Stream that along with a list of all tour dates, below.

Continue reading "Pharmakon playing shows with Swans and other dates"

White Fence
White Fence

As mentioned, White Fence's new album, Cyclops Reap, is out this week on John Dwyer's Castle Face label. Tim Presley doesn't seem to be running out of songs and this is another quality batch of paisley-scented psychedelia. You can stream "To The Boy I Jumped In The Hemlock Alley" below and hear the whole record over at Pitchfork.

White Fence will be in Brooklyn for the Northside Festival in June, playing two shows: the Panache showcase at Brooklyn Bowl on June 13 and then a late show at Knitting Factory on June 14. Tickets to the Knitting Factory show are on sale now; no word on Brooklyn Bowl tickets just yet.

The whole Panache showcase line-up is still forthcoming but we do know its being headlined by Mac DeMarco and we have updated dates for him below as well.

These are just a couple of the additions to the 2013 Northside line-up that includes that free Walkmen show in McCarren Park. Other new additions, Kylesa, Torche, Sonny & the Sunsets, Nü Sensae, Kisses, The Luyas and more. Northside line-up as it stands now is below.

Continue reading "White Fence streaming new LP, added to Northside Fest line-up (Mac DeMarco, Nu Sensae, Kylesa, Torche & more too)"

Pitchfork Festival 2012 (more by Fred Pessaro // BBG)
Pitchfork Festival

The final Pitchfork Festival lineup has now been announced, and in addition to previously announced acts like R. Kelly, Joanna Newsom, and Swans, it now includes M.I.A., Lil B, Solange, Wire, Yo La Tengo, Low, Savages, Toro Y Moi, Phosphorescent, Metz, Autre Ne Veut, Mikal Cronin, Parquet Courts, Merchandise, Woods, Julia Holter, Glass Candy, Andy Stott, Pissed Jeans, Frankie Rose, Ryan Hemsworth, Waxahatchee, Blood Orange, Daughn Gibson, Evian Christ, White Lung, KEN Mode, and DJ Rashad.

Three-day passes and single-day tickets are still available.

In other Chicago music festival news, Lollapalooza early bird passes went on sale today, sold out, and then regular 3-day passes went on sale and sold out. Single day tickets go on sale April 9.

Full Pitchfork Festival lineup and schedule below...

Continue reading "M.I.A., Solange, Wire, Savages, Phosphorescent, Julia Holter, Waxahatchee, KEN Mode & more added to Pitchfork Festival"

sled island

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Explosions in the Sky, Swans, Divine Fits, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Colin Stetson, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Mac DeMarco and Metz are the first confirmed artists to be announced for the 2013 Sled Island Festival which will happen June 19 - 22 at 30+ venues in Calgary, Alberta. This year's fest, now in its seventh year, is being curated by Tim Hecker & John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees. Around 250 bands are expected to be a part of Sled Island this year, plus art, film and comedy. Festival Discovery passes are on sale now.

Pitchfork Fest 2012 (more by James Richards IV
Pitchfork Fest

After already announcing R. Kelly, Björk, and Belle and Sebastian as the headliners for this year's Pitchfork Music Festival, P4k has revealed that those artists will be joined by Joanna Newsom, The Breeders (playing Last Splash), Swans, El-P, Killer Mike, TNGHT, Chairlift, Sky Ferreira, ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Rustie, Mac DeMarco, Foxygen, Angel Olsen, Trash Talk, and Tree.

More artists are still TBA and three-day passes and individual day tickets are still available.

Current lineup/schedule below...

Continue reading "Pitchfork Festival announces more acts (Joanna Newsom, Breeders, Swans, Rustie, Killer Mike, El-P & more)"

Swans at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Feb 2013 (more by Fred Pessaro // BBG)

As mentioned earlier today, The Northside Festival will return in 2013, and have announced the initial lineup for the June 13 - 20th festival. The musical program will run from June 13-16 and besides the previously discussed Iceage and Son Volt, will also feature Black Flag (with Greg Ginn and Ron Reyes, not to be confused with FLAG) Swans (who are playing Bonnaroo), The Men, Rhys Chatham and Oneida (collaborating), Merchandise, Lambchop, Twin Sister, Lower, Milk Music, WHY?, Chelsea Wolfe, the Soft Moon, Destruction Unit, and more.

The festival will take place across venues in and around North Brooklyn, with free concerts in McCarren Park, portions of Williamsburg streets shut down and Pitchfork taking over Saint Vitus for three nights of shows. More details are on the way.

As part of it, Swans play Warsaw on June 13 with Chelsea Wolfe. Tickets for that show go on sale Friday (2/22) at noon.

Tickets for the Black Flag show, which happens at Warsaw on June 14, go on sale Friday (2/20) at noon, featuring appearances from Good For You, The Men, and Netherlands. The show is one of two scheduled for The Men, with the band also scheduled to headline Bowery Ballroom in March.

Badges for Northside 2013 go on sale Friday (2/22) at noon. A full listing of today's announcement of Northside bands is below.

Continue reading "Northside Festival announces initial 2013 line-up (Black Flag [Ginn/Reyes]), Swans, Merchandise, Lambchop + more"

Weird Al and Bonarroo phone bank (including Mike Birbiglia and Eugene Mirman...

With help from Eugene Mirman, Chris Gethard, Mike Birbiglia, Portugal. The Man and more, Weird Al just began announcing the 2013 Bonnaroo line-up on the Bonnaroo YouTube page which happens June 13 - 16 in Manchester, TN. Weird Al just announced Pretty Lights, Wilco, A$AP Rocky, and The xx, and over the next hour, more artists will be announced. We'll update this post as more announcements come.

Other artists playing include Passion Pit, Kendrick Lamar, David Byrne and St. Vincent, Jim James, Big K.R.I.T., Billy Idol, Grizzly Bear, Japandroids, Foals, Wild Nothing, Deap Vally, Killer Mike, Lord Huron, Divine Fits, Nas, Beach House, The Gaslight Anthem, Local Natives, Dirty Projectors, Baroness, The National, The Vaccines, Holy Ghost, Death Grips, R. Kelly, Alt-J, Purity Ring, Cat Power, Wu-Tang Clan, Bjork, Tame Impala, Animal Collective, The Tallest Man on Earth, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Paul McCartney, Earl Sweatshirt, Four Tet, Father John Misty, Swans, A-Trak, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Cults, AraabMuzik, DIIV, Charli XCX, Matthew E. White, Frank Turner, JEFF the Brotherhood, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Calexico, Two Gallants, and more.

Tickets for the festival go on sale Saturday (2/23) at noon EST.

There's also now a video of Daniel Tosh announcing the initial lineup, which you can watch, along with the current list of announced names, below...

Continue reading "Bonnaroo 2013 lineup announcement underway"

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...

Continue reading "Swans played MHOW again (night 2 pics, night 1 review)"

by Caroline Harrison

Swans @ MHOW, 2/6/2013

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.

Continue reading "Swans played Music Hall with Marissa Nadler (pics, review), play again tonight with Devendra Banhart"

Primavera 2013

Primavera Sound have announced their 2013 lineup, set to go down on May 22-26 in Barcelona, Spain. The announcement came via an animated video and artists performing include Phoenix, The Postal Service, Blur, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, My Bloody Valentine, Tame Impala, Wu-Tang Clan, Dead Can Dance, Grizzly Bear, The Knife, and loads more. Current lineup is below along with the flyer and video...

Continue reading "Primavera Sound 2013 line-up announced"