Swans and A Hawk and a Hacksaw - Respectable Street - October 17 | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Swans and A Hawk and a Hacksaw - Respectable Street - October 17

Better than: A hot poker in your ear

There's a new crack in the world's surface. Swans left it there smoldering and smelling of brimstone on the stage at Respectable Street Café.

See also
- Slideshow from Swans at Respectable Street 2012
- Swans' Michael Gira: "At the Best Moments, Music Plays You and Not the Opposite."
- Swans' Michael Gira on Ecstatic Feelings, The Seer, and Being "All in the Sound"
- Review: Swans' Piercing Assault on Respectable Street, September 14

The show was an epic experience in the dynamics of artful noise, sending a trickle of concert goers out the door, hands over ears, faces scrunched, while others crept closer to the stage like moths to a flame. One long-haired guy laid his head on a monitor

as the six-piece rose their volume to the maximum level. Far from the intricate dynamics of the band's recorded work, live Swans are a beast of a band on a quest for loud.

But before the six-member group began exploring the limits of its equipment, a duo on violin, accordion, and kick drum called A Hawk and a Hacksaw warmed up the stage nicely. The duo from New Mexico happens to include Jeremy Barnes, who once played drums in Neutral Milk Hotel, and Heather Trost, on violin and occasional vocals. Their perky, sometimes frenetic music brings to mind the old world of gypsies but also the experimental.

Toward the end of their occasionally entrancing set, Trost pulled out what appeared to be the skeletal remains of violin with a brass horn stuck into it. With one hand she pulled on a dangling string while fingering the instrument's neck creating a sound like the melodic creaking of an old door while Barnes offered an entrancing melody on accordion. The duo provided an interesting contrast to what was to come: A small bright sound rooted in something before Western modernization.  

Swans came on stage not long after A Hawk and a Hacksaw's 30-45 minute set. Rumbling up from silence via Christoph Hahn's howling lap steel and Thor Harris bowing something in his arsenal of percussion, creating a sound like a distant wind, the rest of the band stood by patiently. Frontman and conductor Michael Gira raised his palm at Hahn to hold back on the swell of noise. This was the start of a new piece called "To Be Kind." Gira had the lyrics laminated on a stand in front of him.

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Hans Morgenstern has contributed to Miami New Times for too many decades, but he's grown to love Miami's arts and culture scene because of it. He is the chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, and most of his film criticism can be found on Independent Ethos (indieethos.com) if not in New Times.

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