Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Swans Live

Last Friday night I saw Swans live at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. This tour, supporting the group's newest record The Glowing Man, is the last in the current line-up Swans founder/mastermind Michael Gira has been utilizing to record a truly stellar run of albums that have completely re-invented/re-invigorated the group over the last few years. I'd not seen Swans live before - I've really only gotten fanatically into them since 2012's The Seer - and I wanted to be sure I did before this iteration ended. It was at amazing; in every sense both an ordeal and a learning experience.

You simply cannot understand the sonic experience of Swans live until you see them. You just can't. When you hear things like 'they play dangerously loud', even if you're not necessarily discounting the statement as hyperbolic, you still just cannot imagine HOW LOUD it is.

Pain. Yes, pain.

And while this is a bit of a bad thing, it is also awesome in the truest sense of that very over-used word. Awe-inspiring. 60% of the experience Friday night was observing the physiological reaction my body was having to the sound waves unleashed upon it. Then there was the psychological reaction, and the emotional. It was, in a very real sense, an altered state. A magickal one. At that volume the music has a palpable physical presence - you know what it's like when something alien invades your personal space? That begins to approach the presence I'm talking about. It was, incredible.

If you have the chance to see Swans before this tour is over and you want something unlike anything else, please go. Michael Gira is a true artist/shaman/catalyst and we need to support people like him, so they continue to do the things they do. But I would add, if you do go, bring ear plugs. You may choose to forgo using them, but at least give yourself the option.

The video is not from the show I saw, but I thought it a good example of what the band looks and sound like live. Without the volume I describe above, of course.

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