One of the most eagerly anticipated shows of the summer turned out to be one of the more delightful ones thanks to the chemistry that Lower Dens tends to bring to the stage. The night was full of impressive and fascinating music that lured even the most recluse of scenesters out on a weeknight, but they were rewarded with a bewitching performance that won’t soon be forgotten.
The show didn’t start with a musical opener. Instead, performance artist Alan Resnick stood in front of a screen while images projected what I can only describe as a “Tim and Eric”-ish explanation of avatars. Resnick explained to us how thrilling it was to know that “an avatar can never die,” and proceeded to give us a comedic demonstration on how to create your own avatar (all while failing miserably at it). He gave out donuts for anyone in the audience who participated in his demonstration.
Here’s just a snippet of what it looked like:
No Joy kicked the show into high gear with their never-disappointing and always-awe inspiring set. This is a band that has played Lawrence several times, but this was their biggest crowd yet.
It is an absolute delight to watch this female-fronted band. Generally, all you’ll see are some long legs and a mess of blonde hair with two arms sticking out to shred madness on the guitar. Be still, my heart, for I have fallen head over heels for these impressive gals. We’re lucky to keep having a band like this come back to Lawrence so often.
By the time Lower Dens took the stage, the hipsters and scenesters in the audience were nearly foaming at the mouth. On the heels of a magnificent album release, this was a long anticipated show for the area. I’m not surprised to admit that a lot of us were even nervous about the show.
Well, Lower Dens ringleader Jana Hunter settled our nerves with her charming and likable personality. In fact, at the beginning of the night, she walked up to the mic to introduce both acts before her. When it was time for Lower Dens to start their set, she joked and smiled and made the space between the band and the audience disappear. There was a lot of joking and a particular amount of fun with the word “Y’all.”
But when it came time to play, the faces in the band all got very serious. This was a very intimidating and epic-sounding set of music, and the musicians had very intense looks of concentration on their faces. The stage was lit, not by lights, but by psychedelic projections, yet you could still see every bead of sweat. It was an enchanting and mesmerizing light show that couldn’t have complimented the emotional music better.
When they started into the album’s standout hit “Brains,” you could almost hear a collective sigh of relief from the audience, followed by applause and cheering. Then, they quickly fell silent and remained in a trance throughout the entire piece. The lyrics to the song are stunning, and the vocals are so moving that you can’t help but feel an instant connection with the song. This was possibly the most inspiring performance of the summer.
The love affair continued between the band and audience, but as soon as the set was over it was back to the jokes. They pointed out several boxes of donuts on their merch table for anyone who ventured back there, and assured us the pastries were fresh and that they were not trying to pass off stale donuts onto us. Take notes, people. That’s how you sell merch.
Here are some photos from the rest of the night.