Feel the power of THOR (Harris)

Posted on October 7, 2010


This past week I journeyed to Montreal to hit up a rock and roll show.   Something mellow and cute and lovely? HELL NO.   I went to see Swans, a band fueled almost exclusively by pain and misanthropy.   I should stipulate here that I’m not exactly the world’s biggest Swans fan, but I consented to go for the hell of it, and because my pal was psyched up.  The scene was, not being seventeen anymore, pretty hilarious.  It was the dour and black-clad Olympics, and we were seriously outclassed.  Leather.  Studs.  Frowns.  Trenchcoats.  A thousand goth haircuts.   Serious stuff, damnit, serious stuff.

Screw you mom and dad, SCREW YOU!!

I was reminded of being a teenager and going to concerts in Toronto (a very big deal at the time) and seeing these subterranean creatures emerge from the subway.  It was quite a sight.   At the time I was somehow fascinated by them, and I think – being a depressed teenager – I even envied just how much pain and anguish they must have been feeling.   Not that I really wanted to join their ranks, exactly, but I respected their commitment to feeling bad.  Also, the gothed up girls were some kind of fetching, in a she-would-break-you-and-spit-you-out-after-five-minutes kind of way.  I knew that I couldn’t last in their world, no how.  Remember, I was seventeen.

Spending some time amongst this set as a bona fide adult was a rather different experience.   Many of them are in their thirties now, just like me, except that they’re still holding on to… something.  Still trying to get with teenaged girls whose parents don’t get it, still sulking and skulking.  On this particular day I was in a great mood, enjoying the always excellent company of my man Paul and generally high on life.   I tried to look serious.  I crossed my arms.   I glowered, but it was hopeless.   The supernaturally stupid lyrics of the opening act:

brother slug, sister snail, be thou happy in the slime (sung in the most terrifying serial killer on lithium sort of warble you can imagine)

threw the whole thing onto the side of hilarity.   Doomed.

The openers retreated and it was time for the main event.  Anticipation.   A small, frail man in front of us collapsed in a heap.   We thought he was dead, literally, but his friends didn’t seem concerned.   Some kid who obviously was dying to look like Trotsky in a black turtleneck (I swear I’m not making this up) kept rubbing up against me.  Aggression.  You know what happened to Trotsky you little punk…

And then!?! A mountain of guitar feedback descends upon us.  Punishing.  Loud.   It strikes me that non-white people must find this all but impossible to understand (every single person in the audience is white, no exceptions).  Bring it on.   The feedback continued unabated even as the star of the show appeared on the stage: Thor Motherfucking Harris.

So picture this: a man (whom Paul very aptly described as Viking Goldilocks) comes onto the stage.  He is wearing an impossibly tight shirt and he is just ripped.   Jacked up.  Twenty four inch pythons.   He moves to the percussion section of the stage and starts playing some kind of tubular bells or something with hammers, and for the next hour and more no one’s eyes leave him.   He has long red hair, impeccably maintained (this is obvious even from a distance), and tied on one side only into a long braid.  The other side flows freely.   This is the kind of hair that makes women legitimately envious. Thor wields his hammers and pounds the bells, and slowly his music echoes throughout the great hall of Valhalla.

Just check this guy out:

The force that is Thor Harris

What would you do if this guy showed up to audition for your band?   Would it even matter if he couldn’t play a note on any instrument?  I don’t think so. I would hire this guy on the spot, for almost any job, and I would insist that he carry his sword and helm everywhere.

Pounding out mystical Norse rhythms is hard work, and it can get pretty hot.   Add to this the fact that band leader Michael Gira insisted that the venue turn off the air conditioning because “it needs to be warrrrrrrm” (growled lecherously).  Creepy. Lock up your daughters and hide your husbands.  Anyway, Thor got hot, so a quarter of the way through the show he did the unforgivable (for anyone else).  He took of his shirt and played the rest of the show bare chested.  Now let’s get real, here…   How awesome do you have to be to perform shirtless, for no real reason?   As awesome as Thor Harris, that’s how awesome.   He continued playing, and began very methodically thrusting his groin in time with the music, with this look on his face as though he were having the best sex of his life, making sweet love to the air, or perhaps auditioning for a followup performance with someone with low self-esteem later that night.  In and out.  Yeeeaaah.  I’m Thor Harris, check THIS out.   My biceps are just rippling.  Ohhhhh yeahhhh.

Thor's buffet

Every song, relentlessly pumping.   It was completely crazy and had this almost mesmerizing effect.   There could have appeared Jesus himself, riding a tiger and tossing out candy, on that very stage and no one would have paid him any mind.   Hail the Thunder God.

But the best part – and this should be noted, all ye aspiring musicians – was the patented and obviously premeditated Norse Towelling after each song.  He would walk over, get himself a nice fluffy white towel, walk back to a prominent position, arch his back, and towel the glistening sweat off of his chest and arms.   It was impossible to discern whether groin pumping or towelling gave him the greater pleasure.

All other details from that evening are a blur.  My mind was shattered by Thor’s very being.  Everything I knew about music and performance has been made irrelevant.   I feel like some second-tier Austrian physicist grasping at air, trying to disprove Einstein, even though I can barely understand what he has wrought.   Such is the power of Thor Harris.   If Swans come to your town do yourself a favour and get a ticket, take off your shirt, and enjoy the show.  Nothing can prepare you.

And now for a special bonus!  Thors throughout the ages.

Thunder god. Son of Odin.

Sailor. Beard grower.

Classic comic book hero and member of the crappiest super team there ever was, the Avengers

The loneliest man alive and his faithful valet. A quixotic quest for female companionship.

I won't even insult you by telling you who this is. Respect.

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Posted in: Music, The Obscure