The Great Hall, Toronto, ON, March 16
There's a black humour in Low's music that's often missed — take "Witches" straight-faced centrepiece: "One day I got up and told my father there were witches in my room / He gave me a baseball bat and said, 'Here's what you do.'" Indeed, perhaps wary of coming off boring, the band possess a fourth member in the form of a projector beaming curious black and white footage onto the back wall. One moment ancient stone inscriptions are fading into pebbles that look like skulls; the next proto-airplanes glide gracefully over crackly grey skies, singer Alan Sparhawk yelling the stately refrain of "Clarence White" — "I know I shouldn't be afraid!" — like a pilot spiralling earthbound in denial of his inevitable fate.
Despite best efforts, however, it's true that Sparhawk strikes a slightly anguished pose. Although there's an incongruous air of coolness to that permanently windswept, cowboy-esque hair, he conducted the evening with the pained look of a man who's just been informed his least favourite cat is terminally ill, and it's not entirely unfair to say the 100-minute set occasionally drooped from enchanting to eyelid-sagging.
Still, the lack of onstage fun-having only makes it more impressive that Low are releasing excellent albums 20 years after formation. Theirs is the sound of a band intensely immersed in their craft: you feel that to add or take away would collapse the whole structure like a house of cards.
After the set's early phase leant heavily on C'mon and The Invisible Way, "Dinosaur Act" satisfied those among us that favour the band's mid-career output, before a vaguely self-conscious wig-out for "Canada" saw amps turned up to seven. "Tip the patient bartenders, 'cos they've had to put up with a lot of crap they've never listened to before," Sparhawk concluded, inadvertently making everyone extremely jealous of first-timers. Thankfully for the rest of us, there's no sign the Low wick is burning out.
To see Exclaim!'s Low photo gallery, courtesy of Fil ZuZarte, head here.
ReviewsOct 02, 2015
Destroyer / Jennifer CastleTheatre Fairmount, Montreal QC, October 1
In theory, Destroyer's latest full-length Poison Season — part chamber pop, and part Sinatra-inspired ballads infused with '70s rock ...
ReviewsOct 02, 2015
BattlesLee's Palace, Toronto ON, October 1
Experimental post-rock power trio Battles played a host of songs from their most recent album, La Di Da Di, as well as a few from their prev...
ReviewsOct 01, 2015
Chelsea Wolfe / MammiferRickshaw Theatre, Vancouver BC, September 30
A dark shadow washed over the room as Seattle's Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner unfurled their Mammifer compositions, spiritually entangled ...
ReviewsSep 30, 2015
Lianne La Havas / Charlotte Cardin / Keenan O'MearaCorona Theatre, Montreal QC, September 29
Lianne La Havas has found her niche, and she's working it hard. Once a folk singer with tinges of a little R&B and soul, her band was a full...
ReviewsSep 28, 2015
Salt N Pepa / En Vogue / Maestro Fresh Wes / Fat JoeEcho Beach, Toronto ON, September 27
They wore the jackets. Those customized S-N-P leather 8-ball jackets: yellow, red, black, green and white, bold and baggy, as if snatched...
ReviewsSep 26, 2015
Godspeed You! Black EmperorDanforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, September 25
The link between classical music and Montreal post-rock iconoclasts Godspeed You! Black Emperor is one not explored frequently enough but, a...
ReviewsSep 25, 2015
Slim Twig / Energy SlimeMedia Club, Vancouver BC, September 24
It had a lot of promise, but this evening turned out a bit rough for Energy Slime and Slim Twig. In the opening slot, Vancouver's Energy Sli...
ReviewsSep 25, 2015
Hayden / Evening Hymns / Taylor KnoxCommonwealth Bar & Stage, Calgary AB, September 24
Indie veteran Hayden and his band graced the stage at Commonwealth last night in support of Hey Love, bringing Evening Hymns along with them...