Swans: Live Review from Bowery Ballroom, New York
Swans is not a show for lightweights!
Review by Dan del Ben
Swans is a band I’ve always kind of liked at a distance. As a Melvins fan, I always heard I should like them and I’ve always heard things about their live shows, but it wasn’t until they released the live album We Rose From Your Bed With the Sun in Our Head that I realized that this is a band that I have to see.
It’s not a show for lightweights. Their set was loud and long and noisy. So much so that that it’s nearly farcical. After the first song a fan demanded “Louder!” which got some laughs form the band. About 90 minutes into the two hour set, guitarist Michael Gira commented, “I hope you enjoyed the first half of our show.”
They opened up with a pair of brand new unrecorded songs. There were three total throughout the night. Gira thanked the audience for being patient and giving them a chance, but really they were great. Swans is one of the most vital reformations of a band I’ve ever heard. I may be neglecting someone, but off the top of my head, Swans and King Crimson are the only bands that I prefer post-reunion.
The only pre-2012 song they played all night was “Coward” from Holy Money. Right in the middle of their set and it stuck out. I never thought about it until right then how compared to the early albums, the new stuff is more melodic and poppy.
The second half of the set was comprised mostly of “The Seer” and “Apostate.” Both songs are approximately a half hour. And while two hours is a pretty long time to watch any band, it’s really cool to see a band play long songs in their set without any editing.
Anyway it was a really great show and a must see if you’re truly into loud noisy music. And not just name checking. Swans play Terminal West in Atlanta tomorrow, October 19.
1. To Be Kind
2. She Loves Us
3. avatar (from the seer)
4. coward (from swans, ’85/’86)
5. the seer (from the seer)
6. nathalie (unrecorded new song)
7. apostate (from the seer)