I can’t say that I’m a long time Swans fan. Prior to last year they were just one of those names I heard in passing, a band you hear about when your favorites list their influences, an New York underground band that was said to pave the way for many more. The brainchild of Michael Gira, Swans were major players during the “no wave” scene with a barrage of post-punk, industrial, and noise rock. Then for the most part they were considered a done deal after the flow of new material stopped in 1996. In 2010 Gira resurrected the Swans with members old and new. Included in the latest lineup is Austin’s very own Thor Harris, best known for his work as part of Shearwater. The result of the revived band is My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, which to say the least is a monstrous album. From the opening wall of mammoth bells and guitars to the closing acappella verse, the album is as dark as it is spiritual and elegant as much as it is chaotic. I instantly understood why Gira is considered a modern day legend.
Swans took the stage at Mohawk this past Friday to bring that wall of sound to life. They didn’t disappoint, as each song was a massive assault of sound. At many points it was as if the band were literally beating the fuck out of their instruments. Images of the Incredible Hulk danced through my head seeing Harris’s bare-chested pummeling of a gong during the closing “Eden Prison.” As @TransmitAustin mentioned through twitter, “Swans. EPICITY”
Here is video of the previously mentioned “Eden Prison.” I apologize for the sound quality. Standing in front of the speaker during Swans is pretty much like standing next to a jet engine as it fires up.
I put an even longer video of the set opener “No Words, No Thoughts” over on youtube.