This past Friday, my friend Maheen and I went to see Swans at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. I'd heard a lot of insanely positive reviews about this tour, drawing on the sonic assault of the new incarnation's performance and Michael Gira's apparent...er, masturbation during the Montreal gig. (Thankfully, friends tell me he hid it behind his guitar. I guess he was as moved by hearing "Sex, God, Sex" as we all were.)
BMT has been host to a lot of intense shows, Throbbing Gristle and sunn o))) among them; it hasn't earned its reputation as "the loudest venue in NYC" for nothing. In my humble opinion, though, this was one of the most impressive, bone-crushing gigs they've ever had. It was a set heavy on material from Swans' latest album, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (incredible, FYI, and one of the best of the year), but it was quite the treat to hear "I Crawled" and other early songs. Quite frankly, for a show so powerful that it rocked your eardrums to the very center, it was actually quite beautiful, almost religious in its scope. Even though I was a wimp two-thirds of the way through and went up to the old-people balcony seats (even with heavy-duty ear plugs, being shoved against the amp at a Swans show is no picnic), staring down at a packed crowd of rapt, headbanging concertgoers was such an epic feeling. It was a definite treat to be at their first NYC show in 13 years.
Also worth mentioning: before the show, Maheen ran into opener Baby Dee in the restroom. She actually changed into a special, fuzzy dalmatian-print pair of pajamas for the concert. Afterwards, we took a brief trip downstairs to catch Sasha Grey, DJ JonBenet, and other folks spin some tunes at the after-party; the music they were playing was right up my street (I heard the Human League's "Being Boiled," for one), but the middle school dance vibe was not. As Meg so eloquently put it on my Tumblr, "a bunch of aging goths hangin’ around the basement like some sort of David Lynch bar mitzvah sponsored by Hot Topic." Indeed. We cut out pretty early.
Oh, and Steve Buscemi was there. Love Boardwalk Empire.