Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Low Anthem @ The Basement - Nashville, TN

Although my trip east was for the Big Surprise Tour, I managed to find another show in the area while there. The Low Anthem, a band I've only recently become acquainted with, played an opening set for Langhorne Slim at The Basement in Nashville.

The Basement is a quaint, little venue that, although cramped and stuffy (kinda like a basement), is one hell of a place to catch a band like The Low Anthem. The dark, intimate setting is perfect for a mellow, harmony-focused three-piece.

I downloaded the band's Oh My God, Charlie Darwin a few days before the trip and immediately loved what I heard. I hadn't, however, looked up much info on the band themselves. I was under the assumption that there were at least two primary lead singers, due to the fact that the album portrayed two very different vocal styles. To my surprise - and delight - I found that Ben Knox was the one and only lead vocalist. The polar opposites of silky, airy vocals and grungy warbles show this guy's range. Check out these tracks for examples:

The Low Anthem - (Don't) Tremble
The Low Anthem - The Horizon Is A Beltway

Ben is joined in the band by Jocie Adams and Jeff Prystowsky. The three of them together play a total of 65 instruments.... OK, a little exaggeration, but not much. That night at The Basement showed the band constantly trading instruments and places on stage. Ben and Jeff shared duties on both the organ and the drums. Ben and Jocie both played guitar (acoustic and electric). Jeff thumped a stand-up bass for the majority of the time, while Ben had an array of harmonicas around his neck. Jocie plays the clarinet and the crotales - I had to ask her after the show what it was. At one point, Ben stepped away from the mic to show his skills on the alto horn. But just when you thought they couldn't possibly pull out another trick, Ben closed out a particular tune with some well-controlled cell phone to cell phone interference - that is during the song, he pulled out a phone, called another phone conveniently placed on stage, and let a couple harmony notes echo back and forth between the phones and through the mic. Skills.

The Low Anthem, however, shines brightest in their harmonies. The crowded bar was often mesmerized down to silence due to the band's captivating 3-part vocal showcasing. Don't beleive me? Listen...

The Low Anthem - Cage The Songbird

I haven't even had the chance to mention that Ben's lyrics are often as unbelievable as the band's musical skills. I never like to get too in-depth decoding lyrics anyway, so I'll trust that you check 'em out for yourself.

Buy Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (vinyl available!) and please catch this band when they come your way.

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