Rock bands are known to employ various rituals to get them revved up so they can jump on stage and make rooms bounce with energy. But this was not the case this past Thursday at the Barby. Minnesotan purveyors of intense, intimate sparse-rock, an ensemble appropriately named Low, was in town.
Especially in Israel, it takes a lot of hutzpa to get up in front of an audience and chant, "All soldiers / They're all gonna die / And all the little babies / They're all gonna die / All the poets / And all the liars / And all you pretty people / You're all gonna die."
But it helps that it's true, and maybe the concert's September 11 setting made the poetry go down easier.
Low has been building a largely below-the-radar yet strong cult following since forming in 1993, but the band threw purist fans of their high-concept, minimalist sound for a loop with their last two studio efforts, which employed conventional rock motifs, sampled blips and feedback washouts. Live in Tel Aviv, the trio used no triggers or canned sounds, instead offering new, extra-intense versions of songs like "Breaker" and "Belarus" that are electronically enhanced on the studio versions.
Mormon mom and pop covocalists Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker sang with precision and emotion, their harmonies mesmerizing the packed crowd on highlights like "Dragonfly" and "Silver Rider," the latter sparking a provocative discussion with audience members on local superheroes or a lack thereof.
Halfway through an extended obligatory encore set, Sparhawk joked that the band wasn't used to playing such long shows (as an apology for awkward pauses that took place while they discussed what to play next). But even after a few "extra" songs, the audience wouldn't let Low call it a night. Visibly moved by the warm reception they'd received in a land they'd never been to, the artists returned for yet another encore.
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