By Hollister Dixon
To me, there’s always been something incredibly perfect about the name Swans. The bird is one known for being incredibly elegant, but is also known (though to a lesser degree) for being aggressive to an almost laughable degree, especially when threatened. I’m not quite sure if Michael Gira had this in mind when he formed and named his band Swans, but it’s so fitting because they are a band that manages to do build a brutal, aggressive, in-your-face exterior, and while it may appear to be an inelegant mess, every single note is exactly where it should be, thanks to the talents of Michael Gira, the frontman and sole consistent member.
Swans broke up in 1997, only to roar back to life in 2010 with My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, followed by the monolithic The Seer (2012) and this year’s equally massive To Be Kind. Since then, they’ve done their best to prove themselves (again) as one of the most unwavering, intense live acts around – intense enough to make people in the crowd physically sick at times. The band last played here in Portland in 2012 (at the Hawthorne Theater, as part of MusicFest Northwest), and put on a performance incredible enough to make seeing Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh seem like the wrong decision entirely.
Lucky for us, Swans are a beast that don’t seem capable of slowing down. Since reforming, they’ve started an interesting cycle: go on tour (while also working on new material), release a live album documenting that tour, use that money to fund a new album, repeat. And now, on September 6th, the band will be returning to Portland to blow the roof off of the Roseland Theater. The band’s most recent album, To Be Kind, is as close to perfection as one band can get, which says a lot, considering the same was said for the blistering tower that The Seer was. Can the band top these albums? Can they continue to make flawlessly executed songs? Will Michael Gira ever stop being the world’s most intense showman? See the band live and find out! Click right here to buy tickets to this show, or – if you’re outside of Portland – check out the dates below.