Friday, February 27, 2015

Culture: Swans @ Bowery Ballroom, New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - I like independent rock music, bands who go their own ways beyond the mainstream, those who are experimenting and distinguish themselves from today`s mediocrity.

Yesterday I enjoyed a gig by Swans @ Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan`s trendy Lower East Side (bowery). The band, led by Michael Gira, formed in 1982 and, after disbanding in 1997, returned in around 2010. According to Wikipedia Gira explained the band`s name: ""Swans are majestic, beautiful looking creatures. With really ugly temperaments" (wikipedia).

The 2 1/2 hour performance (!) was was quite something and will stay in my memory for years. There were six musicians on the stage: Three guitars, drums/percussion, keyboards and a sixth performer who acted as a kind of "Libero" (a term used in soccer). He was the "free man" and played alternatively different instruments. Sometimes he beat an additional drum, then he changed to violin, brass, xylophone and other instruments. Often the keyboard contributed a digital carillon which gave the songs an elated structure.

                                                       Industrial Symphonies

The band exploited the potentialities of noises - created with the use of guitars, percussions and a lot of other devices - and transformed them into long symphonic pieces. Melodic and ballad-like parts alternated with massive industrial segments, sounding like colossal machines. Frontman Michael Gira seemed to enjoy the audience in the sold out place ("beautiful people"). His melodic voice gave the songs an additional framework. Sometimes he used his voice as an additional instrument, setting dramatical accents like a performer on a theater stage.

I think the name of the band is apt, the concert was "majestic & beautiful" - with bursts of "really ugly temperaments". Thanks a lot, Swan!

PS 1: Yesterday´s performer were (facebook): Michael Gira / gtr / voice / mendicant friar act (original swans) Norman Westberg – Guitar (original swans) Christophj Hahn – Guitar (mid period swans and most angels) Phil Puleo – Drums, percussion, dulcimer etc etc (final swans tour and most angels) Chris Pravdica – Bass and gadgets (flux information sciences / services/ gunga din) Thor Harris, Drums, percussion, vibes, dulcimer, curios, etc etc... (angels, now also with shearwater).

PS 2: Their next New York show is announced for Sunday March 22, 2015 @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (williamsburg).

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