The festival season coming to a close in Chicago, Minnesota slowcore royalty, Low, came through the city in perfect season-changing form over the weekend (Saturday, September 18), the husband and wife-fronted crew paying a visit to a new southside gem in Pilsen to kick into the second night of a worldwide tour celebrating their now 11th effort, Ones and Sixes.
Thalia Hall was a smart booking. Visually it’s stunning, the Prague-inspired opera house suiting their ominous religious vibes to a tee, but it’s the acoustics, and the folks behind the soundboard, who took it to the next level. It housed Low’s brooding harmonies perfectly, allowing for their dense soundscapes to project without any structural interference.
Low opened with two songs off their new album, “No Comprende” followed quickly by “Kid in the Corner.” There was a seamless transition from one song to the next that carried over for the entire show; very little banter. The streamlined nature of the set was like a warm blanket over the crowd, allowing for some of the harrowing disconnect themes to simmer, everyone ruminating on that line in “No Comprende” about a flaming house that cannot be extinguished.
Equally creeping about “Kid in the Corner,” Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s vocal harmonies carried nicely throughout the venue, turning the tension of the song’s misdirected hostility toward some kid into an unholy hymn of sorts: [LISTEN]
A large majority of the set stayed within Ones and Sixes, but they did take time to revisit their expansive catalog. They ran off three songs in a row from The Invisible Way (produced by Jeff Tweedy), which sat well with the crowd, conjuring up a few raucous “I love you’s.”
Songs like “On My Own” thundered in the halls of Thalia Hall, the bass and the heavy riffing melting the walls. It was a niagra of sound, which changed the entire altitude of the show. It was the apex. The twisted ‘happy birthday’ song painted beautifully black: [LISTEN]
What stood out most is Low’s synergy, a style of play that embraces the idea that the sum is always greater than the parts. A monster sound thoughtfully constructed with minimal techniques. Mimi Parker is big momma on percussion and when she had the spotlight she held it like a queen does her scepter.
If Parker’s the heart, Sparhawk is the soul commanding the stage and driving the songs forward like a captain does his ship. Garrington is just as vital to the success of Low as Parker and Sparhawk, an agent of rhythm and melody that coagulates the sound. It was balance and fortune, which only can happen through commitment and dedication, the spirit of Low still resonating high after all these years.