Seminal no wave/noise rock pioneers Swans have been unstoppable since their 2010 reformation, producing what just might be a contender for their best (or at least most balanced) release ever, To Be Kind, last month. Led by enigmatic frontman and multi-instrumentlaist Michael Gira, Swans’ first run lasted from 1984-1997, with a break just as long until their recent renaissance. We first caught them last summer at Bonnaroo and were blown away. Though they might not be everybody, Swans are one of the most aggressive, experimental, musically complex, and loudest bands on planet earth, and are a tremendous sight to behold. Their performance tonight at Exit/In with Xiu Xiu marks their first Music City date in three years, and we seriously recommend picking up a ticket now before it sells out. You won’t be sorry!
Since a somewhat shocking reformation in 2010, New York experimental rock pioneers Swans have been back in full force. Frontman/visionary Michael Gira said, at the time, “This is not a reunion. It’s not some dumb-ass nostalgia act. It is not repeating the past… I needed a way to move forward, in a new direction, and it just so happens that revivifying the idea of Swans is allowing me to do that.” True to his word, Gira has led the noisy, post-punk outfit in a refreshing new direction, first with comeback album My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, then with 2012′s near-masterpiece, The Seer. True to their prolific nature, Swans released their latest LP, To Be Kind, May 12, and it’s jaw-droppingly good. Produced by Gira himself, the two-hour behemoth features guest spots from St Vincent, Cold Specks, Little Annie, and Bill Rieflin, and is more adventurous, at once heavy yet accessible, and focused than any of the group’s other recent releases. As amazing as Swans are in recording, nothing compares to their live show, and you’d be crazy to miss it; just don’t forget the earplugs!
Experimental post-rockers Xiu Xiu are a perfect match for Swans. While not nearly as heavy, weird, or intense (few bands are), they harbor the same unhinged musical sensibilities and lack of stylistic boundaries, making them unpredictable from release to release. They’re also just as prolific, producing ten full-length records in just as many years. Xiu Xiu’s indie/post-punk style is intertwined with deeply personal and sometimes graphic lyricism, and their live show, polished from years of touring, are worthy of praise. Don’t miss their hypnotic (and, from the looks of the schedule, brief) opening set before Swans rain sonic fire down on Elliston Place.
Swans and Xiu Xiu will perform TONIGHT at Exit/In. The show is 18+, begins at at 9 p.m. (doors at 8 p.m.), and tickets are available for $20.