23rd November | Loco Klub
The stone tunnels beneath Temple Meads that make up Loco Klub are a perfect location for a night of chaotic and aggressive electronic music. Bristol institution, Giant Swan are known for their hectic live performances, mixing industrial grit with volatile techno. This week, the duo brought their taste of madness to Loco Klub for a homecoming launch of their debut and self-titled album. Alongside Giant Swan were a series of experimental and diverse support acts: Jackson Veil Panther, Dis Fig, Ifeoluwa, and Rian Treanor, before the headliners shook the stone structure during their own pounding and frantic set.
Jackson Veil Panther opened the night with some minimal, stripped-down techno doused with treated and manipulated vocal drone. Jackson flooded the mix with reverb, twinkling synths and some throaty bass percussion and instrumentation, able to straddle the line between eerily beautiful and animalistic anger with ease. Played as a set and not as a continuous mix, Panther created a series of tracks that weren’t crowd movers, but acted as a palette cleanser for the night of experimental club music to come.
Elsewhere in the support acts, artist Dis Fig circumvented expectations of what her live performance would be. Instead of playing a mix of acid and hip-hop-centric, harsh and glitchy techno that permeated her previous mixes (her Boiler Room set is of particular note), she instead played a series of low-energy and flowing tracks. Dis Fig opened with singing buried in the mix but high pitch and reverby, along with violin-playing and a mesh of samples. Her songs often went from a Björk-like sway into sudden explosions of bass kick drums, before Dis Fig herself jumped into the crowd to bellow more sharp vocals.
Despite her incredible performance, it was undeniable who really controlled the crowd once Giant Swan came to the stage. Anyone expecting the more restrained side of their sound explored on their debut LP will have been sorely disappointed. Giant Swan didn’t play in the centre of the crowd as they often have. However, the pulsing, endless techno aggression quickly whipped up the crowd into a sweaty tangle of limbs, as half of the room turned into a cross between a fist-pump festival and a mosh pit.
Violence is the building block that Giant Swan’s music is founded on, and it translates incredibly well on the live stage. The sound palette is thick and gritty. A mesh of industrial twangs and crunches build a patchwork wall of sound, whilst an omnipresent kick drum thunders in the background. And ‘thunders’ feels like an understatement; it smashed away every beat like a sledgehammer metronome. The timbre of the percussion was taut and sharp, an impossibly deep bass crash that leads their music through sheer force.
After such an exhilarating performance at Loco Klub, it’s clear that Giant Swan haven’t been slacking during their near-year absence from Bristol. Supported by a varied range of experimental and interesting acts, who each highlighted a distinct aspect of the headliner’s sound, overall the night felt like a slow build-up to a detonation in the form of Giant Swan’s masterful stint on stage.
See Giant Swan’s Boiler Room set at London’s Southbank Centre here: