high and low
last thursday was one of those nights with almost too much going on. almost. i was excited to see long-time mutual admirer jon derosa's band aarktica open for low at bowery ballroom, so excited in fact i had bought a ticket as soon as i heard. aarktica's first album, no solace in sleep, has been a favorite ambient listening choice since i picked it up. even before that, i liked jon's prior projects dead leaves rising and the prehistoric fade. i never liked low much until i heard "(that's how you sing) amazing grace" and became an instant fan. i thought the two bands would be a great match. but i also heard that on the same night, my friend carlos (most people know him from interpol) was dj'ing a bi-weekly party which i'd been meaning to go to. so i tentatively planned to stop by the party after the show, especially after seeing the clever flyer spoof of the original poster designed by peter saville for factory.
the six-piece live version of aarktica bears little resemblance to the ambient guitar textures of my favorite album by them, but they're so good i couldn't possibly complain. what the two incarnations share in common are atmosphere and the looping textures of jon's guitar. a drummer, two horn players, a harmonium, and a second guitar player expertly built the ebbs and flows formerly achieved with multitracking. i was glad a crowd as large and appreciative as that at the bowery got to experience them. jon mentioned the new album bleeding light was a danzig reference, which amused me because i was wearing a danzig t-shirt underneath my multiple layers.
i sat out the next band's set at the downstairs bar, although annoyingly there's no escape since they pipe the soundboard mix down there too. but all was forgiven once low started. i read on central village that friday's show had problems, and the set dragged from their perspective. i was concerned about the same thing since i only really knew one album of theirs, and i can't say i love all of it. but i left the show thinking that a. alan sparhawk (pictured above at a prior show photographed by joe cunningham) is a very underrated guitarist, b. mimi parker's voice is even more beautiful than i thought, and c. i need to pick up some of their other records.
my slocore needs having been sated, i headed over to happy ending, the bar where the visions of the impending apocalypse party was happening. carlos wasn't there yet, so i decided to check my coat and go to the bathroom, since the lines for both were as frightening as they were necessary. this is not the kind of place you can just carry or throw your belongings in a corner, because it's fairly cramped even when it's not wall-to-wall people, which it was. while waiting for the bathroom, i spotted a leather-jacketed guy wearing another danzig tee. the man is ubiquitous i tell you. then i ran into my friend seze and her buddies, who made everything more fun. the music was good both upstairs and downstairs, though the upstairs was slightly better from what i recall, especially once carlos took over. he pulled out some great music that proved he knew the difference between "classic" and "overplayed", as well as a few "oh my god i haven't heard that one in years" (in a good way). i stayed a lot longer than i anticipated because it was fun, although i'm sure the two drinks on an empty stomach didn't hurt. the stylish and ubiquitous merlin bronques took pictures of people. as usual i tended to shoot more obscure images like the one above, and some that will probably end up on ocular spectra next week.
the title of this post comes from the song low by REM. though i should probably have picked something from a danzig song.