By the time Swans had wrapped up their “final tour,” I was only 15 years old. I wouldn’t buy my first Swans record for another four years and I wouldn’t even dream about seeing them live until I was 21 or 22 and in love with Soundtracks for the Blind. I listened to Swans for close to ten years before seeing them last week. That being the case, I spent a little time reading reviews of their shows from the ’80s and ’90s, many of which made the band sound like a mythical beast of impossible quality. Audience members allegedly vomited thanks to excessively loud volumes and many people would leave early just to escape the band’s unrelenting rhythms and dark subject matter. Gira has confessed that some nights he or someone else would lock the doors to a venue from the outside, forcing attendees to endure an entire show whether they wanted to or not. I figured there was a lot of hyperbole in most of those accounts, but such stories were exciting, and I reasoned there had to be some truth in them.
Walking into the Middle East Downstairs on the 30th of September, I was cautiously excited. I like the new record, but I’m a little disappointed by how familiar it sounds. The bonus disc is more exciting, and I knew the band wouldn’t be playing anything from it. Furthermore, I had doubts Swans could live up to the reputation they had earned for themselves. Hoping for the best, I worked my way to the middle of the venue early and waited for Baby Dee to come on stage, thinking I could hold that spot and be in the best possible position for the entirety of the show. The audience that night quickly made sure that didn’t happen. – Lucas Schleicher / Brainwashed
Video Credit: TimFromBoston (note – sound quality in this video is not best, but it gives enough of an idea of the show)