Low's one-song set at Rock the Garden totally ruled

Categories: Rock the Garden
Low_RTG_2013_Anna_Gulbrandsen.jpg
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Alan Sparhawk: "Drone, not drones."

Duluth experimental rockers Low put on one of the most polarizing performances ever to hit Rock the Garden this year. You see, their entire set consisted of a 27-minute version of their 1996 song "Do You Know How to Waltz?" The dirge-y, slow-building track stretched to nearly twice its recorded length of 14 minutes found on The Curtain Hits the Cast, and it confused the heck out of photographers in the pit waiting for the "first three songs" to be completed.

For many attendees, what they heard was the equivalent of someone hocking a loogie in their Lemongrass Limeade. The consternation all over social media was reminiscent of last year's Atlas Sound show at the Cedar when someone in the crowd requested "My Sharona" and Bradford Cox played a freeform freakout version of it for like 40 minutes. One person even started an @FU_Low Twitter account to express their displeasure. Not everyone hated it, though. And here's why it was right to love Low for what they did.

See Also:
Metric at Rock the Garden, 6/15/13
Slideshow: Rock the Garden, the Music
Slideshow: Rock the Garden, People and Scenes


Here's a sampling of the anger that spilled out as Low dared to buck convention and challenge their listening audience with something less sweet than a cherry on a spoon.




And the folks who liked it?




Suppose that last one could be taken as positive or negative. But below, Gimme Noise can tell you why Low's performance was one of the best things to ever grace Rock the Garden.
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36 comments
earney6
earney6

If you really want to see people freak out, have Current book Cat Power next year!  Seeing her requires a post doctorate degree in psychoanalysis.  Do NOT pay to see CP, ever. Took me three times to learn that...

jsonwerner
jsonwerner

this is what Low does.  they played a song off their album.  if you boring norms don't like it, stick to watching The Voice from the comfort of your couch. 

Harrison Bankhead
Harrison Bankhead

Yep, I am god. Deal with it. It was objectively a piece of shit. END OF STORY.

imdact
imdact

its really exciting that artists such as Low can still find ways to piss people off by just doing their thing and doing it well. a half-hour long, one song set is not "avant-garde performance art," even in a festival setting, but it certainly is awesome. the way i see it, if your art can't make squares feel inadequate and/or confused, then you should probably re-evaluate your career choice

Stephen Biondo
Stephen Biondo

So funny when people say shit like that..."end of story"..just because you say so??

Stephen Biondo
Stephen Biondo

Typical so many people would hate it. I wished I would have been there.

Ben Witkins
Ben Witkins

It was absolutely fucking retarded. Get over yourselves, Low.

hellochina
hellochina

sparhawk is weedin' em out........ i didn't mind.  In other news, the rest of the show was great, too.

Chris Goyette
Chris Goyette

I find it amusing that people expect mountaintop moments from Rock the Garden. Buy your ticket, get your drink, go visit a food truck and the merch table, and shut the fuck up...there are 3 other bands to entertain you if you happen to not like one of them.

firewhale
firewhale

Sounds like I can look forward to a lot less Pabst-wielding, texting, talking, hipster douche bags at the next Low show. That's fantastic news!

Matt Blum
Matt Blum

The premise was cool... the song was terrible.

Wade Shores
Wade Shores

Not a huge Low fan but the Black Eyed Snakes are awesome and should play loads more!

SonofA
SonofA

Sounds like self indulgent genocide to me, I never liked low. Overated.

timtimtimtim
timtimtimtim

Low was the highlight of the festival for me.  So powerful and moving.  Too bad people got so butt-hurt over it.

Jeremiah Jazdzewski
Jeremiah Jazdzewski

Although being self-portrayed as spontaneous, original, and artistic, Sparhawk pulled the exact same lackluster move when Retribution Gospel Choir opened for The Hold Steady at First Ave earlier this year...and it was met with the exact same disdain.

brill029
brill029

I'm glad the set appealed to a small crowd of avant-garde performance art enthusiasts, but seriously, most people at show the were just annoyed.  I go to festivals like this usually because there's a couple bands near the top of the bill I want to see and others at the bottom that basically get thrown in for the price of admission.  I check out obscure acts casually and either like them or don't, but really it's the band's opportunity to audition for new fans.  

I wouldn't be upset if Low had played a couple of their weirder songs that just weren't my taste, but from everything I read they played something that can't even be described as characteristic to their sound.  So would I like Low?  Who knows, but I'm not likely to find out.

Curtis Meyer
Curtis Meyer

Low is awesome. It's music festivals that suck.

Shira Claire Karuna Charis
Shira Claire Karuna Charis

I wish I could have been there, but I did hear the live coverage and it was LOW-rific! dreamy and tense and beautiful.

Cassidy Anderson
Cassidy Anderson

the only reason I went and enjoyed myself was Dan Deacon and Metric. Two AMAZING shows.

Tim Ger
Tim Ger

sparhawk, the artistic warrior -- armed with two chords and 3 words. awesomness

Nicholas Rupar
Nicholas Rupar

Rock The Garden usually is too, so what. Edit: Low is great!

Lily Dzubay
Lily Dzubay

Very much not my deal... but then there is something for everyone, right? The rest of the show, and the volunteers, were fantastic!

Tim Koering
Tim Koering

I was listening to the stream and enjoyed the set, but I kept thinking about how much I wouldn't like it if I were there. Just seemed out of place for a festival set.

Adam Wogen
Adam Wogen

Low is so shitty. So, so, incredibly shitty.

a.n.n.
a.n.n.

@timtimtimtim If I never see or hear the juvenile but inexplicably trending term "butt-hurt" again, it will be WAY TOO SOON.

hawley5008
hawley5008

@brill029 Couldn't agree more strongly. 

I thought it was either self-indulgent or arrogant. 

I really like Low & was looking forward to hearing them in the context of a live performance. What we got was something akin to a John Cage piece. Art for art's sake? I thought it was a poor choice to offer a performance piece to that audience. A missed opportunity in my mind that many other artists would have given their eye teeth to have.   

Plenty of artists have worked the "I'm an artist, damn it road." Sadly, it just wasn't very interesting in an outdoor setting & I generally like that kind of thing.

If you subscribe to the Alice Cooper school of "love me or hate me, just don't say it's nice" I would say this was a raging success based upon the boos when commented upon from the stage between acts.          

brianpmbooking
brianpmbooking

Maybe they thought they already covered that audition for new fans when they signed to sub pop and toured with radiohead.

Like Reid said, the problem is likely with the listener.

brill029
brill029

@brianpmbooking There were a lot of listeners with problems at RTG then. Perhaps despite signing to a has-been grunge label and and touring with the world's most pretentious band, Low overestimated their appeal.

solace
solace

@brill029 @brianpmbooking lol @ the thought of Sub Pop in 2013 being a "has been Grunge label", clearly you haven't paid attention the last 20 years.

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