This article originally appears on Boston Band Crush ).
We’ve got a bunch more photos at: http://bostonbandcrush.net/2009/2009-06-18-The%20Low%20Anthem/index.html.
I mentioned in the show preview, that I love seeing shows in old movie theaters. It evokes feelings of idealized pasts with entertainment that is pure and untainted by giant corporate machines. Providence, RI’s The Low Anthem fits this milieu quite literally perfectly. Before the show began, the audience entered to sit in view of a stage haphazardly littered with strange, worn instruments whose manufacturers probably closed up shop before Rock music had even been considered a possibility.
For anyone unfamiliar with The Low Anthem, they’re at a really interesting cross-sectional musical area and the composition of the show’s audience illustrated the point perfectly. The recently renovated theater’s seats filled with an equal mix of young hipsters and old folkies. I didn’t see too many young folkies or old hipsters, but I bet a few slipped in. Musically, both audiences are drawn in by the old-time music revivalism and the soaring, minor downtempo numbers that the band is best known for.
Despite the potential limitations of a trio, the sonic space is absolutely full at every moment because of both the choices of rich instrumentation and the very competent and frequent multipart harmonies. The band even pulled an awesome (with a capital awe) all-electric rock version of the classic life-lesson teaching “Cigarettes, Whiskey, And Wild, Wild Women” (AKA “Cigareets, Whusky, and Wild, Wild Women” and any of a dozen variations on the spelling and pronunciation). The winky anti-sin number has been performed by everyone from Tex Ritter to Jim Croce to Peter Sellers (on the Muppet Show!!!). The band busted it out in full-force with ease to demonstrate that downtempo wasn’t the only game they played.
They filled a number of standout songs including “To The Ghosts Who Write History Books,” with strange, unrecognizable, and improvised instruments. We even got to experience some modern-day cell-phone feedback, certainly not a staple of old-timey folk, but for The Low Anthem, it was integrated without a blink.
It was also Jocie Adams’ birthday, which explains the silly hat you see in the photos here.
If you’d like to hear more by the band (and I know you would), I definitely suggest beginning with the freshly released Daytrotter Session. (In general, I am big Daytrotter fan.) The song choices are excellent and the performances equally superb.
The band was also kind enough to take a few minutes of time before the show to talk to us about what they’ve got going on. They are heading off to tour Europe and returning to play The Newport Folk Festival this Summer.
Righteous Babe artist Anais Mitchell opened. Here is some not-so-great video of her playing her intense, spastic folk numbers. She played a couple of numbers from her forthcoming folk opera. You best keep an eye out for the unveiling of that ambitious effort.