Before we went on our holiday break, we were fortunate enough to catch one of our longtime favorites at Portland’s best venue, when Low came to town to play the Doug Fir basement. It is always a treat to see Low play a show, but we were especially eager to witness one of the best albums of the year performed live. The band indulged us by performing a setlist that heavily featured their latest album, Ones and Sixes, and we are glad to report that the new material sounds just as great live as it does on record.
Taking advantage of a break in the crowd.
The show started off with the one-two punch of the glitchy “Gentle” and the deliberate “No Comprende” that kick off their latest release, which segued nicely into the menacing and electric “Monkey” from The Great Destroyer. While it seems that most critics had forgotten about Low’s previous album, it was nice to see that the band had not. The main set included a run of The Invisible Way tracks that showed off many of the band’s best assets, from Mimi Parker’s gorgeous vocals on “Holy Ghost” to the distorted dissonance of Alan Sparhawk’s fiery guitar on “On My Own” to the group’s sense of irony and humor in “Plastic Cup” (with Steve Garrington ably shuffling between bass and keys throughout, a key if underrated part of the band’s sound).
The group held off from any stage banter for most of the night, before Alan praised the city near the end of the show. At one point, the crowd began to clap when only the slightest shuffle could be heard from Mimi’s drums, and those close enough to the stage could hear her remark to Alan that “they don’t even know what song it is yet”, but on the whole the band let their music speak for itself. The main set ended with the epic “Landslide”, just as we had predicted from our review of the album, and it was just as amazing as we had hoped. Though the encore did not end up including a couple of our old favorites, many in the crowd were ecstatic to hear “Words” from their early album I Could Live In Hope, while “Murderer” from Drums and Guns proved to be a perfect closer.
A colorful view of the band
Unfortunately, we missed nearly all of opener Andy Shauf’s set, due to Portland’s complete stupidity when it comes to creating a reasonable parking system. It is difficult enough parking on the East Side on a Friday night, but with many spots blocked off for the shooting of the television show Grimm, it made it impossible to find a spot anywhere near the venue. However, from the one song I heard, it seems that Shauf’s spare and haunting sound was a good fit for the main act.
Some #longreads that have been carefully selected for your reading pleasure…
We have spent the week blasting Deafheaven’s excellent new album, New Bermuda, over and over again. Before you read our review of the album next week, we recommend you check out this interview with the band from VH-1, which goes into great detail about the making of the follow-up to the universally-acclaimed Sunbather.
Next week sees the release of Deerhunter’s Fading Frontier, and Bradford Cox once again provides an entertaining interview, this time with Observer.
Finally, we have our usual anniversary pieces. First, Allmusic interviews singer Ed Kowalczyk about his former band Live’s massively successful Throwing Copper, and about his current solo acoustic tour in celebration of the album. We are guessing that many of you did not realize that Ed had left the group, and to be honest, we did not know this either. Then you can finish up with this look back at another huge album from 1995, Tragic Kingdom from No Doubt. If anything, this gives you a chance to sing “Just a Girl” and “Don’t Speak” in your bedroom as loud as you can.
Bloc Party is set to release a new album entitled Hymns next year, and today they released the first track from the record. Since Four, the band has shuffled their lineup a bit, including adding Justin Harris of Menomena to the group, and the electronic-influenced “The Love Within” is our first glimpse at the result.