Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, October 2

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« CANCELLED: P.O.S. @ Bottom Lounge Review: Ben Folds Five at The Chicago Theatre 9/30/2012 »

Preview Mon Oct 22 2012

Preview: Pummeling Poetics with Swans @ Metro

Whether or not you know much about no-wave, about its seedy origins in the late-'70s East Village as a formless, art-damaged half-response to the thriving CBGB scene a few years earlier; whether or not you heard about it word-of-mouth or mentioned via passing references to Thurston Moore and Lydia Lunch; or if you've ever heard the canonizing compilation by Brian Eno, and even if you were actually there more than 30 years ago, what you probably do know is that it's going to be loud, that the normal rules of songcraft, tone or musical "talent" don't apply, and that it's gonna be a mess — albeit a beautiful, ramshackle one. Since the beginning, Michael Gira and Swans have always been on the more aggressive and technical side of no-wave, but they've also stacked up plenty of moments among its most transcendent highs in their 30-plus-year history.

When Michael Gira reactivated Swans in 2010 without the help of seminal original member Jarboe, you might be forgiven for questioning whether he still had it in him to crank out the same kind of pummeling industrial poetics that made his group a legend. But then you hear the two records they've released since, including this summer's epic (and excellent) double album The Seer, and kick yourself for even asking. Yeah, they've got it just fine, and Gira's still not sugarcoating — let alone explaining — much of anything.

Much has been written about Gira's tendency to drift toward morbid or otherwise impenetrable lyrics — he owes as much of his glum moodiness to early post-punkers like Joy Division as he does Jean Genet or the Marquis de Sade — so it's no surprise he views his musical expression as a form of sado-masochistic release. Nevertheless, the continuous deconstruction and re-layering of rhythms, textures and sonic imagery colors each Swans track in enough grating repetition and extra-physical drones to fully immerse the listener in Gira's morose, art-damaged world. If, you know, that's someplace you'd like to be.

The result is more fascinating and aesthetically compelling than a no-wave newcomer might expect, evoking peers Sonic Youth at the early high-water marks of their career, Confusion is Sex and Kill Yr Idols. But with Thurston et. al. now facing an unknown future, it's looking like Swans are left, at least for now, with the weight of the no-wave crown — something like the reigning anti-champs of visceral, back-alley epics where subtlety is found in the aggressive. Really, though, there's nothing quite like what Swans can do themselves, comparisons be damned. We're just happy to have them back.

Catch Swans at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark, on Wednesday, October 24th at 9pm, with A Hawk and A Hacksaw opening. Tickets are $26, 18+ only. Make sure to bring yourself some earplugs (or buy a pair at the Metro bars).

GB store
GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

GB store


Featured Series


Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.

About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
Transmission staff inbox:



Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15