Saturday, February 12, 2011

SWANS & Godspeed! You Black Emperor - US Tours: Feb 17 - Mar 29

So, what happens when you have a series of pretty much genre-creating postrock albums, tour with Rachel's and Labradford in the late 90's/00's have some great shows at the Crocodile in Seattle, release a new album in '03 and tour for it in usamerica, wherein you're detained by Homeland Security because some yokels in Oklahoma think you're 'terrorists', you then release a bunch of cryptic political statements via the interwebs and don't release a new album or return to the US in over 7 years? Well, guess we'll find out this month when they come to town! As a definitive progenitor of a sound that has since been overplayed by the post-rock copyists of this past decade, I'm not quite sure what they themselves are going to bring to transcend that, but have powerful curiosity and anticipation of new material and hopefully a new album in the works.

Even moreso potentially stunning of a return, Michael Gira's defining heavy, heavy, heavy, rock band of the 80's/90's, SWANS is back on tour, after a 14 year hiatus in which Gira led his acoustic folk wanderings of the Angels of Light, he's reformed the band with a hybrid of the original lineup and a expanded percussion section from 'Angels. Again, the initial response is one of hesitation/curiosity on my part, as SWANS truly were a one-of-a-kind monolithic sonic icon in their time, producing the heaviest, body-crushing onslaughts of electrified sound any rock band in history had ever produced. Really, the hyperbole applies, their performances of the 80's are legendarily abusive/transcendent and earned them the comical 'loudest band in the world' tag for many years running. To my ears, it's their recordings of a bit later, when Gira began to infuse that weight, with more elaborate orchestrations that referenced the work of his NYC post-punk cohort Glenn Branca along with passages of acoustic songwriting that were clearly influenced by older american folk traditions - where it all came together for me. Ending with the 1997 world tour documented on their "Swans are Dead" live double album. To see them back together now, not as a nostalgic b.s. 'reunion' as Gira refutes this reforming is, is curious. I expect them to utterly destroy the last bit of hesitation I have concerning the potential relevance of his project playing live again, some 14 years later, or at least that's the hope formed from the incomparable shows I've seen by SWANS in the past. February! It's going to be heavy!
Photo credit: Jeremy Küng

Link to Showbox venue Godspeed! site

Link to official Godspeed! You Black Emperor site

Link to Neumos venue SWANS site

Link to official SWANS site