Monday, May 9, 2011

Low Live @ Paramount

On the eve of finals week, ArtsEmerson treated us with Low. The band performed a live set at the Paramount stage in front of an audience of mostly middle-aged music lovers and a select number of actual college students. Vocalist and guitarist, Alan Sparhawk pointed out this irony by asking “So, How’s school going?...This is a pretty diverse campus.” Despite the crowd’s laughter and obvious admiration for the band, this was the most audience interaction during the entire show.

The band maintained a quiet distance between the music and the audience. Each member seemed to be internalizing their individual sound, which magically blended with the rest of the music. Their presence was almost lazy, very appropriate for their slowcore rock. Each song floated naturally with minimalist arrangements and easy drum beats, which structured the backbone of each song. Mimi Parker’s brush-stick drums provided a soft texture to each song and left space for Sparhawk’s guitar solos to shine. The most impressive aspect of Low’s music is the duo’s vocal harmonizations. Most songs are decorated with this vocal play, which honestly gives me goosebumps. The couple’s voices are soft but powerful; filled with a melancholy that is sad yet hopeful.

They mostly played their less known newer songs. This is why in my opinion the encore was the best part of the show. As they came back onto the stage, I turned over to my friend and told her “I wish they’d play Sunflower.” Right as I said that, the room was filled with the song's initial chord along with the euphoric applause from the audience. “Sunflower” was directly followed by “When I go deaf” and “Shame”. During these three classics the hall was silent, everyone was quietly sitting down and soaking up the beauty

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Felice Brothers - Celebration, Florida

For the sake of keeping everyone on the same page, we'll call this fad that's been punching indie tickets for the past half-decade or so "folk." And we'll call the Felice Brothers one of the only bands keeping the retrospective craze honest...

Until they kicked it in the teeth, pissed on it, and laughed over its emasculated, writhing body with Celebration, Florida.

One glance at this year's lineup for the Newport Folk Festival should enough to convince even the most vigilant amp-busting folkie that the "genre" has been done to a merciless death; there's only so much soul, character, technique, and honesty you can wring from the Delta blues and taditional country before it becomes a gutless, formulaic mush of Grammy fodder (sorry, I had to). Instead of continuing to batter every ounce of the festering, decomposing horse, the Felice Brothers left it to the vultures and got themselves a new one, complete with synthesizers, autotune, clap tracks, and the same Catskill attitude and barroom seasoning on which they built their rabid fan base.

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