My Evening with Low: A Show Review with Photos

LowI met up with Brian, our photographer just after 8 on Tuesday night, a little anxious and a little weary. Low, since the late 90s has been a consistent part of my listening experience, not to mention one that I’ve often had trouble explaining my fandom. But, if anything, I left the venue that night with an expression of gratitude, to the band and the many fans that filled the Parish; it was one of those musical encounters few will understand…but those that do will cherish.

It’s interesting looking at the role of Low in the modern musical culture. They’ve been more productive than most bands, save Ty Segall or Thee Oh Sees, yet they seem, to me, to be often overlooked. Still, last night, there was a near capacity crowd, enthralled by every quiet note, every ringing chord and each harmony. I couldn’t help but to wonder if they had pandered a bit more, would they have more recognition…and would I have wanted them to take that spot? I think the fact that they’ve chosen not to, chosen to instead focus on their own work has made them more endearing, and possibly enduring.

From their first note on the evening, just after 9 PM, something began to occur to me, something that I think Low has long championed…they’re not a slowcore band, at least not in the traditional sense. Sure, you can compare them to acts like The New Year when you’re referencing volume and pace, but slowcore in my mind always seems to have movement, progression. Last night I realized that Low are something more primal, more animalistic.

Their notes, even those programmed, drive at the soul of the human experience, the heartbeat of living. Still, when Sparhawk and Parker combine for harmonies, there’s a spiritual quality that filters through the audience. For me, Parker shined like a beacon of beautiful light; her voice soared, leaving a few I spoke with to remark about how her voice, in a different setting, could easily conquer the pop realms.

Sparhawk is something all-together different. He’s the dark element of the band, the perfect contrast to Parker. His chords ring, discordantly. His persona seems detached, yet the few words he spoke remarked on how appreciative he was of the audience in Austin. It’s a striking partnership, and one that seems to have endured the trials and tribulations of a band working on 20 years.

Musically, they played hits, they played covers, mostly evoking the spiritual quality of such powerfully moving music. The volume didn’t really get turned up until songs like “Canada,” and the sprawling “Landslide” took shape at the very near end of the set. They closed the two hours of our evening with “Two Step” before heading back to man the merch booth on their own…a sign that they still handle things on their own terms.

Hats off to the audience for remaining absolutely quiet, save the two idiots at the end of the bar. I’m guessing they were as awed as I was. Photos by B. Gray below!

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