The members of Swans might be a bunch of dreary-faced LES expats, but they have much to celebrate. Like phoenixes, the group has risen from the ashes of its quasi-industrial negative-rock past. In their original ’80s formation, they were a volatile fringe collective that predicted sludge metal and goth ethereality and, by the time they disbanded in the late ’90s, they’d fully become experimental art-rock martyrs. Now, since reforming in 2010, they’ve courted more widespread critical acclaim than in their current run and, for the first time ever, they’ve gotten an album on the Billboard chart. More implausible, that “commercial” album—last year’s The Seer—is a hypnotic, two-hour journey into downtrodden introspection, which features guest spots from members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Low, among others. It even ranked No. 7 on this year’s Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics’ poll. Now, if only these guys would smile. With Marissa Nadler tonight and Devendra Banhart on Thursday.
Wed., Feb. 6, 9 p.m.; Thu., Feb. 7, 9 p.m., 2013