April 22, 2010

Low Anthem at the Paradise

With some bands, you go see their show, you love the tunes, you go home. The Low Anthem, for me, made me think. Don't get me wrong, their show was pretty great, their ethereal-folk rock is incredibly intense, soothing, mysterious and lush. It washes over you. Also, the band is incredibly tight and talented. Their harmonies are spot-on and the band's voices play off each other beautifully. Each of the four musicians – Ben Knox, Jeff Prystowsky, Jocie Adams, and Mat Davidson – play multiple instruments. It's impossible to list what each one of them plays, so let's just take Jocie, for example: She played guitar, bass, clarinet, drums/percussion, and the best was this instrument called cotales, which has a bunch of small cymbals on top that she bows between to make the gorgeous ethereal backing sounds to a lot of their tunes. The combination of Knox's whispered vocals and acoustic guitar plucking, Prystowsky's sparse acoustic bass playing, Adams on the cotales, and Davidson on pump organ is truly magical.
They played quite a few songs off their album, "Oh My God Charlie Darwin," including great versions of "Charlie Darwin," "To Ohio," "Cage the Songbird," and "Ticket Taker," which, after you see how completely they reproduce them live, you realize that the album isn't a layered studio effort as you might have thought.
They broke away from their woozy, whispered-vocals sound briefly in the middle of the show for a two-song, ear-crunching electric set, that seemed a little out of place. Even though they do show that side of their personality on their recordings, it was a little bit jarring live.  Once the two songs were done, they went back to their quiet stuff and never returned to the electric instruments.
So that's my concert overview. Now the thoughts that floated through my mind during and after the show: First, many of the songs, excluding the electric ones, not only have the same tempo, but a similar sound. Now they play a ton of different instruments, I count 14 listed on their MySpace page. So I was surprised that the songs sounded so similar. It's not they all sounded exactly the same, but some varying tempos could have aided the show. Toward the end of the show, the crowd seemed a little restless, like they were waiting for something to happen. There were some really beautiful moments, where the group all stood around one microphone and sang together (see photo above). Also, it seemed that the sound could have been a little louder, given the quietude of the songs. Maybe it was tough to balance the really loud rock with the quiet stuff in the overall mix of the show.
And finally, and I know I've been rambling here, but I thought the crowd was pretty small for a band that seems to have pretty good buzz. Maybe the Low Anthem is really more of a critics' band than a rabid following-type. It really thinned out at the end and there was a lot of loud talking in the back by the bar, which was very disappointing.
To view more pics from the show, click HERE


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scott said...

Great review! I was at the show, and was completely blown away - they just keep getting better, and the new songs are incredible.

Amazing soundboard recording of the show posted visiblevoice.net. Enjoy!