The Low Anthem / Secret Garden Gathering @ The Kazimier
Waiting in line with an eclectic crowd of young an old, hipsters and emos, blacks and white I had little idea what to expect from this gig. Bringing Callum armed with his girlfriend’s digital SLR, we scoped the venue as soon we entered and found a nice little vantage point on the first floor to the right of the stage. I was definitely impressed with my first visit to the Kazimier; being where it is I wasn’t expecting the 40’s/50’s theatre inspired interior reminiscent of something straight out of Bioshock. As a side note to be made, props to the venue on excellent sound for the entire evening.
Secret Garden Gathering came to the stage with hauntingly calm vocals evocative of Dido or even Poe and a musical style akin to early Chilli Peppers. I’d not given these guys much of a listen before the gig, which actually worked out pretty well as their performance completely took me by surprise. Best described as elegant vocals and beautiful guitar melodies accompanied by a robust drum line, this local five piece comprised of multi-instrumentalists weren’t on stage long enough for my liking. With the depth of three vocalists on selected songs and an incredibly talented drummer that made the whole thing look effortless, their entire set was a genuine pleasure to experience.
Truth be told, this gig concerned me even before I’d arrived. Having researched the Low Anthem on Facebook and Spotify beforehand just to get a feel for them, I already knew they weren’t gonna be my thing. But with thirty thousand fans on Facebook alone and an impressive 159,677 listeners on a Last.fm, my own opinions mean very little.
Simplistic and artist, this American alternative folk quintet has made a name for itself perfecting a down tempo and melancholic ensemble of sounds. Evident experimentalists, The Low Anthem incorporate some rather unusual ideas in so much as playing the blunt edge of a wood saw with a violin bow. At one point, the lead singer even used two mobile phones to create feedback white noise, through which he then sang. It’s all very courageous but not necessarily attractive. The saw sounded much like an out-of-tune violin, which could have also been achieved by playing an out-of-tune violin, and the white noise, whilst impressive for maybe ten seconds, quickly became an annoyance. Hoping to at least praise the band on their musical talents and performance, this all became rather difficult maybe halfway through their set. Playing a trumpet directly into the microphone rendered every other instrument in play completely inaudible and instead of correcting the error of having one of the singers’ microphones on mute, the girl decided to shout her parts instead. This resulted in more of an unpleasant bellow than vocals. At one point the lead singer even started coughing directly into the microphone. I know these things happen but, for a named band like The Low Anthem who were even featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack, so many little mishaps just isn’t acceptable. The Kazimier may have held a much small crowd than the band is used to playing, but the tickets were still £15 per head so a little more consideration for their fans, no matter how few, wouldn’t hurt them.
Words: Daniel J. Berryman
Photography: Callum Murray
Original ManGone Review