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Author Topic: Swans @ Trees in Dallas  (Read 1747 times)
jonzr
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« on: Sep 17, 2012 at 08:56 »

Wow, visceral.  Wall of sound doesn't do it justice.  Swirling, mesmerizing, hypnotic, trance-inducing pit of noise would get closer.  Great show, not for everyone, to be sure.   I should have stuck around for a brief chat, Michael Gira said they'd be by the merch table.

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« Reply #1 on: Sep 17, 2012 at 10:31 »

Haven't listened to Swans in ages...
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 17, 2012 at 11:07 »

I'd never heard of them before about a year ago.  Gotta love the interwebs.
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« Reply #3 on: Sep 17, 2012 at 21:32 »

At the start of the show the band took the stage and began to play straight away.  They quickly ramped up to a droning force, Michael Gira's baritone cut through the din.  After the first song, Gira thanked the crowd, then demanded that the TVs throughout the club be turned off, "Would somebody please turn off those fucking TVs?  I don't wanna watch the Southwest Louisiana report or whatever that is.  I mean it.  Right now!  Somebody turn off those fucking televisions.  RIGHT NOW!  It's insulting!  This one by the stage too.  Hurry up!  Unplug it!  Drape a cloth over it!  Be creative!"

Yeah.  Gira is serious about his performance.  But I don't blame him, the TVs were a distraction.  Soon as they were off, and believe me, club staff scrambled to accommodate, the band resumed.

Mrs jonzr was not into the show at all.  We were in the back by the bar, on stools at a small table, near the aforementioned TVs.  I was one of the people who cheered at Gira's request demand.  After 30 minutes I left her to join the crowd in the front because I wasn't getting the full-on Swans experience from the back.  It made a huge difference.  Let me be clear, the volume was punishing.  I always wear ear plugs to shows, the kind designed to knock about 20 or so db off the top while retaining the clarity of the performance.  It was still loud.  Those guys had it turned up to 11 for sure.  But the volume was only one aspect.  It lent to the group experience, we vibrated at the same frequency, shared the impact of the sound and the intensity of the performance.  The repetitious drone served to induce a trance-like effect.  It truly was a fantastic concert experience, strangely beautiful.

Gira was a task master on stage.  He frequently turned to individual players, waving his arms, pointing, sometimes screaming at them, sometimes conducting.  During one instrumental section the bassist drew his attention, seemingly for hitting too many notes in the repetitious drone, Gira kept gesticulating, holding up one finger.  He ran to the bassist, in his face, waving one finger.  Then I noticed the playing changed and only one bass note was struck and allowed to fade before the it was struck again.

The other guitarist and the steel guitar player received the least attention, supposedly their playing was pleasing to Gira.  But the other three (bassist, drummer, percussionist) were forced to be attentive.  The percussionist, shirtless, fit and long-haired was named Thor.  No shit.  He pounded on glockenspiel with hammers, and played a large assortment of other instruments, drums, cymbals, violin, clarinet, xylophone, whistle, and some things I did not recognize.  At times he would sit on the floor, gulping water, seemingly drained.  At others he and the drummer would pound their instruments with a fury while Gira faced them thrashing his guitar, the same chord over and over, slightly higher every eight measures or so, the pitch slowly increasing, the tension mounting.

At the end of the show Gira appeared furious at the drummer.   He shouted and gesticulated but I couldn't determine why.  Maybe the poor bastard got the finale wrong, who knows?  By the end of the two hour set - no breaks - the guys were drenched with sweat.  They expended loads of energy in an extremely intense and emotional performance.  The time passed rapidly, it was the quickest two hour concert I've attended.  Perhaps it was the nature of the experience, if one allowed himself to be submerged, enveloped by the music, then time could roll by unnoticed.

tbc
« Last Edit: Sep 17, 2012 at 22:38 by jonzr » Logged

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pensodyssey
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« Reply #4 on: Sep 18, 2012 at 00:14 »

I have no idea who Mchael Gira is, but it sounds like he's a prick.
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« Reply #5 on: Sep 18, 2012 at 08:03 »

I have no idea who Mchael Gira is, but it sounds like he's a prick.

He came off that way but in some interviews I've read he seemed normal enough, surprisingly well spoken.  The thing about Swans that I've recently learned is that they're constantly working on new material on stage, so I'm sure there's some degree of experimentation and correction happening in real time.  Take away the TV rant and I'd disagree with your impression, as one could explain away the other antics as composition and discovery, the shouting, etc. necessary due to the extreme volume.  But he came off as impatient and angry regarding the TVs.  But who knows, maybe he'd told the venue earlier that the TVs had to be off when he took the stage.

I'll never be hanging out with the guy so it matters not.  Great show.
« Last Edit: Sep 18, 2012 at 08:14 by jonzr » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: Sep 18, 2012 at 09:12 »

Somewhere, on a music board, they're discussing #88.

Well, I'd never heard of these guys, so I checked out some YouTube clips.

I'm with Mrs. Jonzr.
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jonzr
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« Reply #7 on: Sep 18, 2012 at 10:34 »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R31AWhv02Y#t=04m30s
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« Reply #8 on: Sep 18, 2012 at 10:46 »


That might be the most stoic concert crowd...ever.

I've seen more energy from a midnight Christmas mass gathering.
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« Reply #9 on: Sep 18, 2012 at 10:57 »

Big Virgil is dying to see their heart rates and calories burned.
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