Low | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Whoever said you have to watch out for the quiet ones must have had Low in mind. When the trio from Duluth, Minnesota, started playing, at the height of the grunge craze ten years ago, they raised the bar for audience baiting by playing extremely slow, morose songs at the threshold of inaudibility. They can still sound pretty melancholy, and they haven't outgrown their penchant for perverse gestures: after making their fourth and fifth albums with producer Steve Albini, they turned around and enlisted Gerry Beckley of soft rockers America to do backing vocals on 2002's Trust (Kranky), their sixth and latest. But they're much more than deadpan conceptual pranksters. Abetted by engineer Tchad Blake (who developed his ear for novel textures working with Los Lobos and the Latin Playboys), Low captures the light as well as the shadows on Trust. Drummer Mimi Parker and bassist Zak Sally lay down a funereal beat on "Candy Girl," but the song turns out to be a tip of the hat to folksinger Gillian Welch. And Parker and guitarist Alan Sparhawk sound positively joyous on "Last Snowstorm of the Year," a paean to the triumph of music and maturing faith over youthful nihilism. This concert is part of a brief tour that Low is doing to road test new songs for their next release, but given the season it's reasonable to expect they'll trot out a few tunes from their self-released Christmas EP. Haley Bonar opens. Friday, December 12, 10 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie; 773-276-3600.

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