Going to a The Low Anthem concert is like stumbling upon a backwoods church with aged clapboard siding, windows thrown open to songs of melancholy and longing, attracting congregants young and old—most of whom wear plaid. An old foot pump organ with gaffer’s tape and other assorted antique and electrified instruments are assembled on the stage. The songs, eerily beautiful, portray a decayed world on the brink of collapse with a quiet intimacy usually reserved for introspective events like religious worship.
One of the band’s founding members, Jeffrey Prystowsky says, “there’s a beautiful reverence for silence created by old religions that is close to musicians’s sensibilities.” Ethereal instruments such as a saw blade and Crotales—a rack of bronze cymbal-like discs played with a violin bow producing ghostly feedback—add to the reverential aura. The band’s pro-environment and anti-capitalist sentiments are also gracefully woven into the poetry of their lyrics.
All piety aside, they can rock out too—as they did at Brooklyn’s Bell House last week. Such songs as “The Horizon is a Beltway” and “Home I’ll Never Be” sounded like a rollicking revival. Each band member played several instruments, changing for almost every song. Prystowsky started at stand-up bass, but also played drums and pump organ. At times it seemed these classically trained musicians could make beautiful music out of any random bit of electrified metal—which they did.