Lower Dens played to a sold out Bowery Ballroom, filling the space with their densely layered sound, full of metaphors relating to thought and existence. The band formed a half circle on stage, with band leader Jana Hunter on the right end, drummer Nate Nelson at the back, and bassist/vocalist Geoffrey Graham rounding out to guitarist William Adams at the outer left. In this formation they lined the outskirts as if to have more space to churn out the sounds, and let the textures and timbres intermingle in the center and take shape into an entity of it’s own, while the band and audience can sit back and be taken in by the fuzzed-out vespers. They played intelligently droning sounds that could either be music to think to or music to let yourself be completely clouded by.
Projections at the back intermittently either added to the sonic nebula with organically moving colors and shapes, or simply provided a backdrop of solid bold color. The lights on the band lit their individual faces and artfully projected their shadows. This also seemed to help amplify their grand minimalism, and enhanced the ability of the songs to build up like a heavy fog that suddenly engulfs all senses. However, to fully appreciate this effect the band has seemed to master, being toward the back of the venue was where the real effects were at. Being right up at the front of the stage was actually too close, and even disorienting. Moving back afforded the bigger picture, to not be so close to any one sound, to just let it all percolate and take in everything as a whole. Lower Dens are slow burners, with arrangements that need time and space to develop. There show was one with lingering effects like reverb radiation – the drone pop that keeps on droning even after the amps are turned off.
Noise gaze band No Joy from Montreal was on right before. They are female fronted, but it may be more accurate to say that they are hair fronted. They could be called shoegaze because they rarely look up. Across the board, it’s just bleached blonde hair in their faces, swinging wildly over guitar and bass strings. The drummer in the corner is the only male member, who was perhaps trying to keep as anonymous as he could with the aid of a slightly unsettling face mask. They seem to share many of the same sensibilities as Lower Dens as far as the sounds they’re likely inspired by, and the fuzzy ambiance they create, but they’ve gone in a slightly sonically different direction with it. Instead of blending back and letting the sound swirl, they rocked out with their (hair) roots out.
All Photos (c) Kelly Knapp