I'd shown up to the Music Hall of Williamsburg two hours after they'd started letting people in, but for some reason, there was still a line. I guess that all the other old men had decided to show up late like I had in order to beat the rush. A lady asked me if her press pass from a French magazine would get her in and I said I doubted it. The guy in front of me turned back and exclaimed to me, "Devendra Banhart only played for a half hour! A HALF HOUR!" I didn't respond, but it was clearly bothering him because he said it again to me a few minutes later. It was like being in line at the post office when some exasperated guy keeps exclaiming, "Can you believe this!?" because the line moves slowly. I don't know Devendra Banhart's music, but I know he used to have a big beard and dated Natalie Portman, who is my generation's Winona Ryder, so that's cool.
Once inside, I wandered around and tried to find things to photograph but didn't find much. Despite the show being full of people, there was a lack of energy. Everyone was over 30 and wearing black. I checked out the merch table and was disappointed. I got in line to buy a drink because I didn't know what else to do. Once I got close to the bar, the guy in front of me bought me a beer and said that I looked like I knew what was up. He said his name was Willis and he ran a festival called Brain Cave. Then I photographed a few people.
Swans took the stage and people cheered and then they stood very still. Swans played something droney and repetitive as the audience did their best to stand completely still. Michael Gira, the main Swan, put his hands up and close his eyes while he was singing. I think maybe he was trying to imitate a swan. Gary Numan puts his arms out like a plane when he performs because he loves flying. I found myself going into my own mind since the band wasn't interesting to look at and the audience was even less so.
I found myself wondering why this band was playing in a venue like Music Hall of Williamsburg. It felt more like a recital than a rock concert and it would have been nice to sit down. I also wondered how a band that made such noisy music could sell out the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I know that they're one of New York's oldest bands that still performs, but I was still surprised. I have no idea why anybody likes anything and am always surprised by what is and isn't popular. Not long after starting, I saw two grey-haired men leave the spot where they were standing, probably because of the volume. It was so loud that I could feel my eyeballs vibrating in their sockets.
There were a couple of younger guys really grooving on the music and soulfully headbanging. Michael Gira had laminated his lyric sheets and kept them attached to a music stand with bulldog clips. I thought this was kinda corny. I found myself getting annoyed and left after watching Swans play for an hour.
I guess that to me, the music that Swans makes is best appreciated in isolation. It's music that I relate to most when I am sick of other people, and being in a room of people while their music plays doesn't make me like those people. Some music only makes sense when you experience it live with other people and some only makes sense alone. Swans make sense when I'm alone, but not when I'm with other people. Here are some photos I took of the show.
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Deniro Discusses How Cult Rap is a Genre of Music That Connects With the Listener Through Social Commentary
Insanely Close and Personal With the Brian Jonestown Massacre
I met Katy Newcombe when we were both fifteen. Now I see her presence lurking within magazine features, disguised as the words “Anton’s teenage Welsh bride.”
Courtney Barnett Told Us How to Stop Writing Terrible Poetry and Land a Record Deal
We talked to the Australian singer about art school and why trying to write good songs just leads to writing bad ones.
Turn Up to Keys N Krates' Diplo & Friends Mix
Occasionally, we the at Noisey will kindly request that you drop whatever you're doing and turn the goddamn motherfuck up. Now is one of those times.
Meet Amos: The Man Who Designs Moog's Wonderful Toys
Moogfest takes place in North Carolina this Wednesday and boasts a lineup including M.I.A., Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Dan Deacon and many more. So we talked to the man who dreams up synths.
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Noisey ditched North America for South to eat endless empanadas, catch up with Julian Casablancas backstage, get winded while dancing to Phoenix and find out more about Colombia's music scene.
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How a Strong Bad/Daft Punk mash-up album helped bring out the magic in 'Random Access Memories.'
HEARTSREVOLUTION Talk Pop Culture, Feminism, and Michael Jackson's Crystals
"This is our love letter to this generation. It’s an invitation to a conversation…"
Behind the Lens: Sky Ferreira Is Not Racist
Discussing Sky Ferreira's video for "I Blame Myself" with director Grant Singer.