Tonight’s triple bill at Royale brought together three seemingly different acts, but each one turned out to be special in its own way…
Sir Richard Bishop – former Sun City Girl who channeled his inner Fahey/Shankar with an impro-raga-drone set. Spirits of Kerouac and Sir Richard Bishop’s brother Charles Gocher also made an appearance in the middle of the set. Not bad for an opener, but the next act was even more intriguing…
Wovenhand – Though technically a band, this night Wovenhand was essentially one David Eugene Edwards (who also plays in 16 Horsepower).
One must say that the man is quite a spectacle to watch – from the way that his dressed (cowboy boots/hat) to his smoky voice to the loud banging on one of the two microphones, there’s nothing that he won’t try. His stage antics also deserve a note or two the most peculiar being the fact that he seemed to go off into trance at the end of each song (some of which would end either with a blast of feedback or with him doing long chants and shaking his head).
Its the word that I hear most often in connection with the band. History of the band is tied with the word – from the rumors that people were vomiting during their early shows to the reasons why Michael Gira disbanded the original incarnation of Swans in the mid 90s.
But if the ability to play loud would’ve been their only forte, there would be no reason to discuss them on a larger level. It is a certain sense of rhythm/groove that the band injects into many of their albums that really helps to set them apart from many of their peers.
That’s not to say that Swans weren’t loud that night – it would’ve been a shame to go to their show and not get at least a little bit of ringing in both ears the next morning, as a matter of fact. Then again, those guys know a thing or two about the combination of sheer volume and nearly complete silence. Hence their set mostly resembled a rollercoaster ride as they went from earlier and more abrasive tracks to their most recent material like “Jim” and “Eden Prison” off of last years “My Father Will Guide Me” LP.
And as a side note – there were plenty of headbangers in the crowd that night, so the fact that more than few people seem to be aware of the fact that Mr. Gira and his band made a contribution to metal as a genre (even if its an indirect one) is very nice to know, indeed.
Overall, the night clearly belonged to Swans. As for other two acts – I’d put Wovenhand a bit above Sir Richard Bishop. No offense to the latter – his set was really good, but it seemed to me that Mr. Edwards was even more entertaining when he presented his low-key folk set.
Videos – Swans set:
Video credits: Stasistheband