One of the most enduring of the “no-wave” bands to emerge from the American urban alternative scene of the early 1980s, Swans is also one of the most confrontational and nonconformist bands to ever be even tangentially involved in rock ’n’ roll.
The brainchild of guitarist Michael Gira, Swans earned its reputation by performing dark, abrasive, drone-based music at an excruciatingly high volume. Part avant-garde, part noise-rock and the rest simply anger-fueled, Gira’s music was not for everyone, but in its singular commitment to carving an anti-mainstream niche for itself, smacked of an unflappable integrity.
Peers like Sonic Youth may have encroached further into the commercial popularity limelight, but Swans remains a revered cult-level band. Area fans will revel in the fact that they don’t have to travel to Toronto to see the recently reformed band. In a coup for alternative music fans in Buffalo, Swans performs at 8 p.m. Friday in the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.). Pharmakon will open the show. Tickets are $15 advance, $18 on the day of the show (box office, www.ticketmaster.com).
Larry Carlton is a beast of a guitarist. As one of the most successful and prolific jazz-fusion players to have emerged during the ’70s, Carlton’s guitar work graced dozens of high-profile recordings from that era – most notably those of Steely Dan – while he concurrently launched a successful solo career. Known and revered for his thick, creamy tone and uber-hip jazz-informed melodic lines, Carlton is both a virtuosic improviser and a highly intelligent composer.
Last time Carlton and his trio passed through the Bear’s Den at the Seneca Niagara Casino, Carlton proved that, if anything, he’s improved with age. The show was a stellar one, and it ran the gamut from soul and R&B to fusion and straight- ahead jazz. Carlton and his band return to the Bear’s Den for a show at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets start at $45 (box office, www.ticketmaster.com).
The Saturdays on Old Falls Street summer concert series continues this week with a headlining performance by 10,000 Maniacs. The Jamestown-born band’s new album, “Music From the Motion Picture,” ranks among its finest, its trademark blend of electric folk jangle and indelible vocal melodies providing supple and beautiful underpinning for singer Mary Ramsey’s ethereal singing. (Learn more about the album through www.maniacs.com.) For Saturday’s show, 10,000 Maniacs will be joined by a trio of top-notch area indie-rock bands, the Albrights, the Tins and Aircraft. The show starts at 5 p.m. at 101 Old Falls St. in Niagara Falls. Admission is free.
Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar will celebrate its third anniversary with a multi-act bill providing entertainment beginning at 6 tonight and carrying on throughout the evening. Sonic Garden Ultra Lite will play jam-based favorites from the likes of the Grateful Dead and Phish. Later, DJs Bearskinrug, Charlie the Butcher and Shuteyes Buffalo will spin sets in various genres. A complimentary buffet will also be offered.
The Labatt Blue Canal Concert series continues Friday with the return of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. Bonham and Co. will celebrate the music of Led Zeppelin, following opening sets from DoDriver and Time Giant. The concerts take place at 35 Chestnut St. in Lockport. Start time is 6 p.m., and admission is free.