Weak at the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, MI

Low brings textured sonic layers to The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids for a haunting evening of indie rock and roll.

Grand Rapids pinball machine and rock venue The Pyramid Scheme were haunted Wednesday night with buzzing riffs and melodic harmonies as legends of slowcore Low rocked the house in support of their latest album, Hey what. While the band has enjoyed a cult following since the early 1990s, this latest album has garnered widespread critical acclaim and was even named one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of the Year in 2021. It wasn’t surprising to see a full house.

Melbourne-based doom/sludge metal duo Divide and dissolve set the stage for the evening with a wall of jaw-dropping amps delivering their fiercely progressive program in full force. The group consists of saxophonist and guitarist Takiaya Reed and percussionist Sylvie Nehill who seek to use their music to “decolonize, decentralize and destroy white supremacy”.

While Reed and Nehill’s music centers around instrumental expression, they have used song titles like “Gaslit” and “Mental Gymnastics” to discuss topics like patriarchy, colonialism, and more. At one point, Reed explained to the crowd that they hoped their music could inspire fans about how they could start conversations with “their racist white uncle.”

The heavy messages of their music met equally heavy sounds. Detuned, distorted guitar notes were held and stretched to breaking point, then slamming percussion intertwined to convey anger, desperation and despair.

The crowd had a few minutes to recover from the sonic onslaught before Low took the stage. The three-piece band is led by husband-and-wife founders Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals), with new touring member Liz Draper on bass. Behind them, three LED pillars flashed like cityscapes.

Formed in Duluth in 1993, Low has released 13 full albums throughout their career, their last three being aided by producer BJ Burton who seemed to release the band’s boldest sound to date with the 2021 release of Hey what. The album builds on the distorted layers of synth-guitar sound found in 2018 Double negative and take it to another level.

Fans were treated to a back and forth performance of all 10 songs on the Hey what album before a deeper dive into their catalog which included popular tracks “Sunflower”, “Plastic” and the closing encore “Nothing But Heart”. Throughout the night, Sparhawk and Parker alternated between spooky but beautiful harmonies and smashing guitar statics that completely mesmerized the entire room.

The band will travel to the UK, Ireland and Europe for the next leg of their tour from April 25. They will then return to the United States for a few shows in June and at the end of the summer to wrap up the tour.

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