Photographs by Sean Chin.
Michael Gira, of whom we had featured on Capsule this month, is a man who clearly knows how he wants his music to progress. He told us he was never truly happy with a final product: Ever. With Swans‘ beautiful set at Yonge Dundas Square, we can see he really meant what he said. With a few songs off of To Be Kind being changed drastically live and with a few new songs that were completely breathtaking (the future Swans releases look heavily promising), the wandering folk of Toronto may not have been ready for Swans, but a massive crowd that only grew larger and larger, it was a wider audience than anyone probably expected. With Swans’ abrasive music and lengthy periods of crescendos, this was their opportunity to hypnotize the masses. With a set that crept up on you like a Kubrick film, Swans succeeded with great ease.
The volume was tremendously loud, and those unaware of what Swans represent as a collective may have been unprepared for this onslaught. Either way, everyone was blown away by these mystical songs that only melted into the chilling, droning ambience Gira tossed in raw, humanistic reactions within his songs as he would yell “get fucked” repetitively for at least a minute. His mission was to make the buildings around the venue collapse: These were his words. He used his hands like a conductor, indicating when instruments should go louder and quicker. Every song was packed with such power, such anxiety and such majestic grace. By the end of the set, Gira waves and says they’re gone. He says this as though it was the end of a horrible set for us and we were to be relieved. In fact, it was the complete opposite. We were wishing for anything to be thrown our way. We never wanted that experience to end. Even if noise isn’t your cup of tea, to see Swans live is to se a concert unlike most in our lifetime. It is a message of how different concerts can be, and a statement that Swans are masters at raw captivation.