Live Photos: Swans & Devendra Banhart
Swans played the final show of two NYC dates at Music Hall of Williamsburg on February 7th, joined by quirky indie songwriter Devendra Banhart. The show was a make up date for a previous show cancelled by Hurricane Sandy.
I'll qualify this first by saying that Swans, as Michael Gira has pointed out numerous times, is not a metal band. The no-wave gods have created their own niche though, like many of the greats have over the years, influencing legions of others who adopted the noisy, pummeling tribal jams of their early days to the heavy music of today. Neurosis and Godflesh are clearly disciples, and the bands that have followed their well-worn path will forever owe a debt to Michael Gira. Despite his own insistence, Michael Gira is a heavy music icon.
Swans reunion is a rare example of a band returning from the grave and with a power that fueled the legend of their early years. Most of it is due to Michael Gira's loose, conductor style on stage... screaming orders to his apocalyptic orchestra and swinging his axe like Leonard Bernstein would a baton. The open space that Swans allow in their music makes the time when the songs come crashing together all the more potent.
Devendra Banhart, who released material on Gira's Young God Records, opened the show with a perky Spanish-spoken set that was every bit as lilting as Swans were punishing. He paid tribute to Gira by stating that he owed "his life" to the no-wave/post-punk god. I'd tend to agree, but I also think Gira owes me my hearing back.
More pictures from Music Hall of Williamsburg are below.