The era of big festival reunions may finally be drawing to a close, as reunited Coachella bands like Ride and Drive Like Jehu drew tiny, depressing crowds to tents the size of aircraft hangers. With Jehu in particular, it was just sad, and I couldn't bear to be one of the 80-or-so people filling out that room for long. Swans, who are technically a reunion act even though they're doing the best work of their careers right now, brought a crowd just a tiny bit bigger than Jehu's, and they had to contend with closing the Gobi tent, playing at the same time as the Weeknd and Axwell ^ Ingrosso, the Swedish dance duo whose euphoric thumps kept bleeding through the tent walls and trying to kill Swans' vibe.
But Swans made a bad situation work by leaning into it, stretching out and droning for extended stretches. Really, Swans shouldn't be bringing out huge crowds, at least when it's not their show. They tend to play new music live rather than anything the crowd might've heard, and I think the endless warm bass-heavy ambient piece they played was intended for another album. All their layers of sound were genuinely pretty during that stretch, and they cast a spell. But then, without warning, the band suddenly lurched into a deranged blues stomp, catching the entire universe off-guard. I saw people run out of the tent as soon as the thunderously loud beat kicked in. It was awesome.