TAKING EVERYONE APART (or PEANUT BUTTER TOAST & AMERICAN BANDSTAND)
The quiet ones returned to Portland last night, playing Dante's. Not the ideal venue for them. Poorly designed floor plan puts the bathrooms in the center of the two-room space, and a lot of the floor is taken up by tables, and I swear they oversell any time there is a popular show, because it's always so cramped. But I think as a Low fan you learn to deal with shit. Whenever they play a bar-type venue, you're going to get stuck with louts who talk too much, who haven't got the good grace to just shut up and listen. But you also are part of a fanbase that isn't afraid to say, "Hey, fuckmonkey, shut your goddamn hole." Last night was no exception to this, but we had the added bonus of the second room bar where people were just socializing and flapping their gums. There are places in this town (like Berbati's) where people seriously pay the cover charge to hang out and be seen and talk to friends. Hipsters literally paid $15 last night to be crammed into the bar and be at the cool place. There was such a vast sea of bad facial hair I was tempted to go buy razors and pass them out, but then I realized at least this meant some of the idiots in the world were marked, so why end that? (One guy...oh this guy...he had on a thick scarf and stocking cap and I swear to you, he pasted his moustache down and tried to give it curls on the ends. I wanted to ask him where his biplane was, when take-off time was scheduled for.) More appalling were the number of people who were going to cut out early to go see Thin Lizzy. Thing fucking Lizzy?!? Ignoring that they weren’t all that great to begin with, the one dude who made them worthwhile has been dead for 25 years or something. Seriously...but who the fuck ran over your head with a truck that this was the hip thing to do last night, jackass.
Okay...deep breath. Take comfort in the fact that a young couple standing behind me stood there and critiqued everyone for how hard they were trying to be indie and special, reminding me of myself and my partner. There is a new generation of bitter folks on the way!
Low were amazing. The set was made up exclusively of songs from Trust and new material as yet unreleased (though, I include the two tracks from the hard-to-get Murderer EP in that category)—excepting the special request of "Sunflower" in the encore, an old Mimi solo track ("When You Walked Out On Me"), and what I assume was an Elliott Smith cover, performed solo by Alan and his acoustic guitar, dedicated as it was to someone from the Portland area who was a great inspiration and who had passed away. In general, this meant it was a night of complicated angles and noise, occasionally breaking off into heavy riffage that seemed inspired by Alan's side projects, the Black-Eyed Snakes (one new song was nearly hard rock!). Trust's "Canada" was given an extended bass intro, over which Alan sang nearly the whole first verse of Outkast's "Hey Ya." It was an example of a newer, looser Low. Gone are the days of the troubled self-loathing when perceived mistakes occurred onstage, replaced by a band willing to laugh about it, to joke and punctuate a bad note with an arena-rock finger-point. As Alan noted, back in the day when it was cool to not sound professional, they took it all way too seriously; now that polish is back in vogue, they are falling apart. Love 'em for it!
Favorite song of the night was probably "Little Argument With Myself," for its sheer power and emotion. The music climbs to a stark cacophony, while Alan's vocals scream with doubt and hatred. It's the visceral attack on the heart that makes this band special. Sometimes they do it with the softest of efforts, and sometimes they jam the sounds in with a mighty force. Power comes in many disguises.
Current Soundtrack: David Bowie, Lodger (Rykodisc edition); misc. Low rarities