Jun 182013

indexThere’s a mini-rock brouhaha going on in my hometown of Minneapolis about a festival concert over the weekend which included Metric, Sliversun Pickups, Bob Mould, and Low.

Low raised a bit of a stink with a 27-minute, 1-song “set” that they dubbed “Drone, Not Drones” — kind of a political statement. You can listen to the performance and read more about it here: http://blog.thecurrent.org/2013/06/the-audacity-of-low-what-does-a-band-owe-us-when-we-pay-to-see-them-perform/

This show was outside the Walker Art Center, which houses and hosts contemporary and performance art. I’m surprised people can get so worked up over a “slowcore” band like Low, especially at a festival event where you can just go get a drink or food if you don’t like something and come back for the next act. I’m not a big fan of slowcore, but I’ve enjoyed zoning out to it at times.

The whole thing does raise a good question — have you ever gotten ticked off at an artist for a performance that was totally unexpected . . . or out of the norm for the band?

I’ve seen people pissed at Springsteen (Tom Joad tour), Neil Young (Greendale), and Dylan (pick ’em) — but they should have known what they were getting into on those tours. I’ve personally gotten pissed only a few times — John Doe, Marshall Crenshaw, and New Order — where I thought they didn’t give a damn. How ’bout you?


  7 Responses to “Low Blow or Concert Surprise?”

  1. I know what you mean about getting ticked off by an unexpected performance. I’ve written before about how bad New Order was when I saw them, with the drummer spending most of the set pushing PLAY on his drum sequencer so he could get up from his kit and show the keyboardist where to place her index fingers on the synth. I didn’t know what to expect from them, but never did I expect anything that unprofessional.

    I’ve seen Pere Ubu more than any other band. Once I went to see them in New York. They came onstage and three quarters of the band members I was expecting to see were no longer with them: bassist Tony Maimone, synth player Allen Ravenstine, and drummer Scott Kraus. I was STEAMED…until the new line-up started playing and it was clear that David Thomas’ mostly new set of bandmates would deliver the music in a slightly different-but-no-less powerful manner.

  2. cherguevara

    I got really pissed watching Pete Yorn once. Thing is, I was curious about him and open to hearing his stuff. At the same time, he was opening for Crowded House on their reunion tour and I was very eager to see them. Add in to the mix that this was one of the first shows we went to after our daughter was born, so we had a train ride home (thus a schedule to keep) and a babysitter to pay. That’s why we were pretty pissed when he decided to play a long, long set consisting entirely of covers. I thought it was a big “fuck you” to the audience, although he clearly thought he was doing something special and fun.

    A few years before that, and I’m sure I’ve written this before, I went to see Holger Czukay from CAN play his first US show ever at the Knitting Factory. Never have I seen a room clear out so much – it was packed with enthusiastic fans at the beginning, by the end there were about five people left. He was mostly playing electronic loops that were subtle but had a DJ dude with him playing four-to-the-floor bass drum that was overriding everything else. Audience members were giving him passive-aggresive fist pumps meant to be middle fingers but he took them as sincere and fist pumped back. Weird show.

    It has to be tough for a dude like Crenshaw – he’s had success as a songwriter but his solo success is a long time ago and he slugs it out playing shows all over creation in little venues and recording albums that few people buy. I suspect that being a cult artist has to do odd things to a performer’s brain, I’ve seen some who seemed bitter not only toward their lack of greater success but also bitter about the contrasting enthusiasm they receive from a very small number of people.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    I was going to re-post about my experience with Holger Czukay, but I see you beat me to it. The “show” I saw had no secondary bass drum-playing deejay, but it did consist of Holger basically pressing “play” on his PC keyboard and, yes, pretending to play a bank of keyboards he stood behind. It was weird, and not weird-good.

  4. BigSteve

    I once talked my friends into going to see the dB’s at a ‘club’ on the grounds of the New Orleans World’s Fair. This would have been in 1984, in the post-Stamey era. For some reason the band did not treat this like a professional gig. They were drunk, and they played a bunch of half-assed covers. It was like a garage band reunion at a wedding reception crossed with a Replacements gig. My friends gave me grief about this for years.

  5. ladymisskirroyale

    Interesting about Low. Their Christmas album is one of my favorites; it’s surprisingly fast-tempo’d for them. So getting mad because the song was slow: some hipsters didn’t do their homework.

    Mr. Royale and I walked out of only 1 show that I can recall of, and that was the last Guided By Voices. Although we had heard of the legendary stories of Mr. Pollard’s drinking, his rants were getting more and more vitriolic, so we decided to leave before our image of him and his music was completely decimated. But we “should” have expected a performance along those lines given his history.

    I was surprised, back in the day, when John Cougar was still going by his single last name, when he walked off in a snit after some wild audience members threw a bottle on to the stage. Considering that this was the “Hurt So Good” tour, his actions seemed a little hypocritical.

  6. I lament the fact that I was set to go, but missed, the legendary PiL gig at The Ritz in New York where they played behind a screen of themselves playing, and dodged beer bottles.

  7. Funny that you should mention Pete Yorn — one of my guilty pleasures this year has been his new “project” called The Olms, which is some grade A pop rock in my book.


    Good points on Crenshaw. I’ve seen him with a full band and bigger crowds and he was great. The time I got pissed he was solo and sat in a chair the whole show at a small club — I had brought a bunch of people, with me. Same thing with John Doe — bringing friends to see somebody you like go throught the motions makes it worse.

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