It may seem strange talking about a band that hails from Duluth, Minnesota, but there’s a feeling I get when I see them perform that makes it feel like they’re from here — Baltimore, that is. Possibly the first time I saw them was right across the street from the Metro Gallery, where they performed to a sold-out crowd Wednesday night.
It was 20 years ago at least in the Charles Theatre. The backdrop was this huge candle that flickered and waved but never seemed to get any smaller. And, I guess, to a degree Low, itself, is like that. They’re always experimenting with sound and song form — from performing long single song pieces (see “How Do You Waltz?”) to remaking what rhythm can be in the context of a rock/pop song — but there’s a beauty and warmth that stretches throughout the 25 years Low has been releasing music.
The band’s newest LP, Double Negative, has been critically acclaimed and for good reason. Songs like opener “Quorum” thump with life, setting the stage for the rest of the album through thick walls of hazy static which then make way for rich harmonies. It’s an album with surprises — sometimes buried, revealing themselves after a few listens, others more straightforward but no less interesting.
At the Metro Gallery, surrounded by a packed house of fans, Low delivered an astounding performance, with three rows of vertical screens/lights provided brilliant splashes of color and images. And while the harmonies of Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk permeated the sound made by the instruments, I found myself taking my glasses off at times, appreciating the spectacle of what was being projected through my own physically imperfect lenses.
Going from the quieter “Holy Ghost” to the wall of fuzz and strobe of “Do You Know How to Waltz,” I had the sense of riding that boat in Willy Wonka as Gene Wilder sings “There’s no earthly way of knowing what direction we are going.” But instead of dread, this was a feeling of expectation.
It was really hard to tear myself away from the magic that this trio created as they went from one favorite, like “Lazy,” to another (“Sunflowers,” “Lies”). And after a brief (and hilarious) Q & A with the audience the band stayed to play one more — the hypnotizing finisher “Will the Night.” This could have been my favorite Low performance in memory.
Low are finishing up their current tour for Double Negative. Find more information here.
The setlist included:
- Dancing and Blood
- Always Up
- No Comprende
- Holy Ghost
- Always Trying to Work It Out
- Poor Sucker
- Nothing But Heart
- Especially Me
- Will the Night
Here are more photos of Low performing at the Metro Gallery on Sept. 11, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.