Swans Series Of Live Shows Mesmerizes Brooklyn Hipster Audiences

by Michael Levine

This past weekend the iconic NYC based band, Swans, performed three consecutive sold out shows in Brooklyn at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg. Playing two hour sets that consisted of songs from their various releases over the last forty years, front man, songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist, Michael Gira was in top form. Gira not only played guitar, and sang in his deep, haunting baritone voice, but also simultaneously conducted the other five musicians throughout each musical number.

The Swans are renowned for playing at ultimate volume and creating drone-like musical soundscapes which often rise to a frenzied, vibratory crescendo. Drummer, Phil Puleo, kept the hypnotic and often erratic beat, throughout the night. A perfect example that men and women are of equal value was amply displayed by Christopher Pravdica, and Dana Schechter, both bass players who were positioned on opposite sides of the stage, keeping their part of the rhythm section intense and tight. Puleo tinkered on various percussive instruments as well as a dulcimer and backing vocals. Kristof Hahn played the lap steel guitar, which normally is reserved for Americana Country music, but Hahn played it like a kamikaze pilot taking a nose dive into bombastic oblivion. Needless to say the entire audience was transfixed for duration of the evening. I watched from my balcony seat as the crowd, which ranged in age from college students to senior peeps, swayed and shook in their own, unique, angular movements which could only be described as a rather twisted, interpretive dance.

Swans will be continuing their current world tour in Europe for the next two months. For more information regarding this seminal group of stellar musicians check out their site.

Photo Credit: Phillip Backhouse

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