Swans Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto ON, June 20

Swans Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto ON, June 20
Photo: Stephen McGill
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"Let's bring these buildings down!", shouted Swans' Michael Gira before kicking into "The Apostate," from 2012's The Seer — and no one would have been surprised if the towers at Yonge-Dundas Square had crumbled at that moment. If there were any concerns that Swans would have to compromise their loud, visceral music to perform a free outdoor show in downtown Toronto, those fears were alleviated by Friday night's opener, an ominous, hair-raising 26-minute "Frankie M" that climaxed with bone-rattling waves of orchestrated noise at once terrifying and beautiful, suffocating and cathartic.

Over the next (too brief!) hour, Gira looked and sounded like the maniacal conductor of an unstoppable juggernaut, prowling and jumping across the stage, directing his band to perform an exhaustive rock'n'roll exorcism on Toronto's commercial core. This was one of the best concerts of 2014, and perhaps the finest hour of Yonge-Dundas Square as a venue for live music.