Concert Swans @ Control

May 21, 2013   /   byAna  / Categories :  Muzica

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Cand prezenta celor de la Swans a fost anuntata la galeria Galateca, pentru sesiunea de autografe de dinainte de concert, a urmat un moment de tacere si de stanjeneala. Cred ca o parte din cei prezenti erau vizitatori intamplatori si nu stiau despre cine e vorba (pe 18 mai a fost Noaptea muzeelor), iar cei care stiau, pareau intimidati. Pe unul din peretii laterali rula proiectia documentarului lui Simon Henwood (a carui expozitie era gazduita) cu imagini din turneul Swans din 2012. Simon Henwood a realizat si grafica pentru The Seer, al doilea album de studio dupa pauza de aproape 15 ani. The Seer e considerat de Michael Gira un punct culminant nu doar pentru Swans, dar si pentru tot ce a compus in alte proiecte, si a fost unul din cele mai bune albume cu care m-am intalnit in 2012.

Despre sesiunea de autografe aflasem intamplator, cu cateva ore inainte de concert, citind un articol foarte bun despre vernisajul “Henwood Library”. Asa ca acolo eram, deocamdata sprijinita de unul din peretii facuti din coperti de carte albe, lipite, aruncand cate o privire catre proiectie, incercand sa-mi fac curaj sa cer un autograf. Pana la urma, cand am vazut ca gheata s-a mai topit, l-am rugat pe Michael Gira sa-mi semneze pagina cu e-ticket-ul pentru concertul din aceeasi seara, dupa care am ramas doar pentru sesiunea de intrebari si raspunsuri. Care a constat intr-o singura intrebare urmata de raspuns, nimeni nu a mai indraznit sa adauge ceva, asa ca nu-mi ramasese nimic de facut acolo si m-am indreptat spre club.

In Control Club erau o gramada de oameni care asteptau sa intre, auzeam zvonuri ca e deja sold-out. M-am grabit sa intru si m-am asezat undeva in fata scenei, dar am fost destul de repede aproape doborata de atmosfera de caldura amestecata cu fum de tigara. Ma gandeam, destul de necajita, ca nu o sa fiu capabila sa rezist nici macar pana incepe concertul, asa ca m-am pozitionat cat mai aproape de usa din stanga scenei, in ideea de a prinde o gura de aer curat cand se deschide. Nu am incercat decat o data sa ajung pana la bar, sa-mi salut niste foarte dragi prieteni, si m-am intors cu destula dificultate. Concertul nu incepuse inca si clubul era ticsit de lume.

Ceea ce nu stiam la acel moment, dar am aflat-o dupa concert, cand am discutat si cu alti prieteni si cunoscuti, a fost ca accesul publicului era departe de a se fi incheiat. Ba chiar se mai vindeau bilete, desi locul era evident mai mult decat la capacitate maxima. Partea din spate, dinspre bar si iesirea din stanga, se aglomerase in exces si unii s-au trezit afara, purtati de multime, si nu au mai putut sa intre. Mi s-a povestit din cel putin 3 surse diferite, am citit pe pagina clubului, a doua zi, patanii similare, deci nu cred ca au fost cazuri izolate sau exagerari. Si asta nu numai ca e incorect fata de cei care isi cumparasera bilet, unii cu mult timp inainte, dar poate fi si periculos. Nu stiu daca si cum ar fi fost gestionat un incident mai grav decat a nu-ti putea vedea trupa preferata.

Am senzatia ca randurile de mai sus sunt un exercitiu de futilitate, pentru ca nimanui nu pare sa ii pese, ba mai degraba e posibil sa atrag ostilitati. Dar prefer sa spun ce stiu si ce gandesc, cu riscul de a nu mai fi eligibila pentru niciun premiu de popularitate…

Dar ma intorc la momentul cand toate acestea mi-erau necunoscute, si cei de la Swans au ocupat scena. In locul anxietatii de la galeria de arta, au fost intampinati de o explozie de aplauze si de incurajari. Au inceput cu o invocare fals-linistitoare, to be kind, to be kind, to be kind, to be real, to be new, to be sung by a song that’s untrue… La un moment dat, totul erupe, toate instrumentele de pe scena se dezlantuie cu intreaga forta posibila si la maxim de intensitate. Cei care nu aveau earplugs isi acopera urechile cu mainile. Eu venisem pregatita, si totusi imi parea ca sunetele trec prin mine, intruzive. Mi-au trebuit primele doua piese ca sa ma acomodez si sa ma las captivata de muzica mai degraba decat de ce se intampla pe scena. E dificil sa nu-l urmaresti mai mult pe Michael Gira, prezenta lui scenica si gesticulatia bizara, exploziile lui de temperament (aproape a atacat pe unul din fotografi), modul in care interactioneaza cu restul trupei, pe care pare sa o conduca precum un dirijor. Mi-au captat atentia si Christoph Hahn, care nu contenea sa zambeasca si sa faca semne catre publicul din fata lui, sau Thor Harris de la percutie, care avea si un cinel pe care scria mare, THOR.

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Totusi, pe la jumatatea concertului am fost captivata de Coward, singura piesa veche pe care o interpreteaza live, care a ramas lipita de mine. Am ramas fascinata de versurile imbibate de agresivitate / sexualitate, put your knife in me, put your knife in me, I love you, I love you. Efectul lor si al tobelor care marcau ritmul era de vrajire hipnotica.


Cred ca dupa aceea a fost singurul moment de comunicare al lui Michael cu publicul, ne-a aratat foile plastificate unde are versurile scrise, si ne-a spus ca ne-a adus numai piese noi. Intr-adevar, a continuat, daca imi aduc aminte corect, cu She Loves Us (unreleased). Am renuntat la orice incercare de a-mi ordona impresiile, totusi sunt destul de convinsa ca s-au tinut de setlistul anuntat pentru acest turneu. Sunt destul de sigura ca au incheiat cu The Seer / Toussaint Louverture Song.

Spre final aratau de parca ar fi dat totul pe scena, toata energia, in vreme ce publicul aplauda din ce in ce mai inflacarat. Inainte de a se retrage au ramas o vreme buna pe scena sa salute publicul, pareau impresionati de primirea facuta (sau imi place sa cred ca a fost asa, si nu doar un exercitiu de imagine). Chiar si dupa ce plecasera de minute bune si banuiesc ca toti stiau ca nu va exista un encore, lumea inca ii chema, striga, ovationa.

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Au fost momente de neuitat. Daca le-as repeta – cu siguranta, dar a doua oara as fi mai atenta la conditii, organizare si ambianta. Cumva totusi ma indoiesc ca va mai exista a doua oara.

Dupa concert Swans, am cutreierat putin centrul orasului cu prietenii, in cautarea unui loc in care sa schimbam impresii. Ne-a fost imposibil, strazile si terasele erau supraaglomerate, duduind de house, unele cu cate vreo frumusete sumar imbracata dansand la intrare, sa atraga clienti. Un dus rece de realitate pe care l-as fi amanat bucuroasa.

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When Swans’s presence was announced at Galateca Art Gallery, where their autograph session preceding the  concert took place, a moment of silence and unease followed. I think part of the visitors just happened to be there (European Night of Museum took place on May 18), and those who knew about them seemed intimidated. Simon Henwood’s documentary about the band’s tour in 2012 was projected on one of the gallery’s side walls, the place where his library’s exhibition was also hosted. Simon Henwood is the same man who designed The Seer’s graphic art, the second studio album after a hiatus of a nearly 15 years. The Seer is considered by Michael Gira himself a culmination not only for Swans’s music, but for his creation with other projects. It’s certainly one of the most outstanding albums I stumbled upon in 2012.

I found about the autograph session by accident, only few hours before the concert, while reading a very good article (RO) about Henwood Library’s varnishing day. So there I was, pressed against one of the walls made of glued white book covers, glancing at the video projection, searching for courage to ask for an autograph. Finally, when the ice melted a bit, I asked Michael Gira to sign my printed e-ticket for the upcoming concert, and I stayed only for the Q&A session. If consisted only of one question followed by the answer, so I decided my time there was done and started walking to the club.

A crowd waited in front of Control Club, and I heard rumors the concert is already sold-out. I hurried in and occupied a place in front of the stage, but soon enough I felt I like losing consciousness because of the heat and cigarette smoke. I was worried I won’t be able to make it through the whole night, so I positioned myself as close as possible to the left side entrance, in hopes of catching a breath of clean air when the door opened. I only tried once to go to the bar to say hello to some dear friends, and it was quite an adventure to get back to my place. The concert didn’t begin yet but the venue was already overpopulated.

What I didn’t know at the time and only found latter after the event, when I discussed with friends and people I know, was that the access for the public went on way after the band started. Tickets continued to be sold even if people obviously couldn’t get in. The area between the bar and the back entrance was overcrowded and some were pushed out, without the possibility of getting back in. I was told about this from at least 3 different sources and I read online, the day after, similar stories, so I don’t think there were isolated incidents or overreactions. And that’s not only unfair to those who bought tickets in advance, but also with a danger potential. I don’t know how a more serious incident would have been dealt with, more serious than not being able to see your favorite band on stage.

I have a feeling what I wrote is an exercise in futility, since no one here seems to care about what happened, it’s most probable I’ll attract animosity. But I’d rather tell what I know and what I think, with the risk of not being eligible for a popularity prize…

But let me go back to the moment I was still unaware about all these, and Swans finally went on stage. Instead of the anxiety at the art gallery, an outburst of applauses and cheers welcomed them. A false-comforting chant begun, to be kind, to be kind, to be kind, to be real, to be new, to be sung by a song that’s untrue… It all erupted at some point, all the instruments unleashed their entire force, at full intensity. Those who didn’t have earplugs covered the ears with their hands. I came prepared, still I felt the sounds passing through me, intrusive. I needed the first two songs to accommodate and let the music carry me rather than what happened on stage. It’s difficult not to be captivated by Michael Gira, by his stage presence and bizarre gestures, his explosions of temper (he almost attacked one of the photographers), his interaction with the rest of the band, which he seemed to lead like a conductor. But my attention was also drawn by Christoph Hahn, who smiled and waved to the public in front, or by Thor Harris with his huge cymbal marked with the word THOR.

Still my attention went back to the music in the second part of the show, while listening Coward, the only old play in their live set, which stuck with me like glue. I was fascinated with the lyrics, soaked in aggression / sexuality, put your knife in me, put your knife in me, I love you, I love you.Their effect, combined with the percussions, was those of a hypnotic spell.


I believe one of the few interaction moments with the public soon followed, when Michael showed us the plastified sheets of paper where the lyrics were put down, and he told us he only brought new songs. Indeed, they continued with She Loves Us (unreleased), if I remember right. I gave up any attempt to put my impressions in a certain order, still I am pretty convinced they stuck to the announced setlist for this tour. Also I am pretty sure they ended the show with The Seer / Toussaint Louverture Song.

Near the end they looked like they gave it all, all the energy, while the public went louder. Before going away for good, they took some time to salute the public, and they seemed impressed by its reaction (or that’s what I like to think in happened, and they were not just trying to look good). Even some good minutes after Swans left, and I presume we all knew it wasn’t going to be an encore, everybody still called for them, shouting and cheering.

So we had our share of unforgettable moments. If I’d repeat them – damn right, but the second time I’d pay more attention to the conditions, venue, organizing. But somehow I doubt there will be a second time for us.

After the show, I wandered with my friends in the city center, looking for a place to stay and chat. It was impossible to find one, the streets and bars were equally overpopulated, with loud house music and some with some half naked local beauty dancing at the entrance, to attract customers. A cold shower that brought me back to a reality I would have been glad to postpone.

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