I hope I’m totally wrong, but I picked up on a few hints that this latest tour by Low might mark the end of the band. My half-baked evidence:
- Alan Sparhawk seems to be having success with new side project, the Retribution Gospel Choir.
- This tour is not in support of a new album release.
- The shows were marketed as “An Evening With Low,” lingo for shows with no opening acts. Pitchfork reported that Low would be playing extra-long sets.
- Sparhawk himself told the Mercury Lounge audience to settle in for a long night, and ominously said a “retrospective” show is like the proverbial “nail in the coffin.”
- Bassist Matt Livingston has left the band after a relatively short tenure, replaced by Steve Garrington.
- David Kleijwgt’s 2008 documentary You May Need a Murderer had a notably more frank and final tone compared to the 2004 Low in Europe. Could Low be preparing their legacy?
- I read later that on September 13, at the End of the Road Festival in Dorset, Sparhawk flung his guitar into the crowd. As seen in You May Need a Murderer, Sparkhawk has some issues with his mental health. Whether it was an act of rage or elation remains an object of debate online.
Like I said, I hope I’m wrong, and one of my favorite bands will continue on. Recent albums The Great Destroyer and Drums & Guns were both great leaps forward, and as a listener I see no reason why the band can’t keep evolving.
Some little anecdotes of the evening:
- The first half of the set was acoustic (albeit using an array of electronic devices), and Sparhawk switched to an electric guitar for the second half. Garrington used an upright acoustic bass throughout.
- Mimi Parker stated that the evening’s rendition of “Dragonfly” could have been called “Dragging-fly” Sparhawk agreed, admitting it was a “Extra Dragging-fly.”
- Low debuted a sequel to their classic Low Christmas EP: “Santa’s Coming Over,” soon to be released on vinyl and digitally. Its the first example of self-parody by Low that I’m aware of. The Low Christmas EP is actually somberly beautiful, but in “Santa is Coming” Sparhawk sings patently silly lyrics in full doom-and-gloom melodramatic slowcore style. Perhaps I should have filed this note in my list of “half-baked evidence” above…