6/18/15- ICA

Even during their own performance, atmospheric Icelandic act Low Roar had their spotlight stolen away. The night’s true protagonists were the music, and the waves.

The trio had formed a half circle, drum kit in the center. Lead singer Ryan Karazija’s profile faced the crowd for most of the set, creating a sense of visual balance– he seemed no more important than his fellow musicians. Behind them a decorative curtain of threads hung, a backdrop that mirrored the strings of the harp Active Child would play shortly thereafter.

Seated in retro 70’s orange-colored theatre chairs, the audience looked down onto the band and through stunning floor-to-ceiling glass windows out onto the water. Sailboats gently rocked in the background, a seagull soared, the ICA slowly dimmed as the sun set. For much of the performance, the noises the band made could just as well have come from the other side of the window– the cries of sea creatures in the harbor. “Come in, come in, take anything you need,” sang Karazija. A man with a ponytail stroked his beard, Dumbledore-style. A couple was moved to share passionate kisses.

Save for a short thank you at the end, Low Roar didn’t interact with the crowd. The band moved from track to track without introduction or interruption, performing what felt like one very long song.  The strumming of the guitar built up from “Dreamer” and faded into “Half Asleep,” and though the acoustic sound was an aural contrast to the clear droplets of sound from the synths, the transition, like all of the ones that night, were so well-blended that the beginnings and ends of the songs were indiscernible.

The difference in timbre of the acoustic and electronic instruments was also much more noticeable than on the record. And sometimes it felt out of place, like the harshness of the rhythms banged out on (what sounded like) a cowbell for “Vampire on a Fridge.” Considering the rest of the set was mostly Karazija’s airy falsetto, brushes on cymbals, ambient synths and finger picking on an acoustic guitar, the staccato beats jolted us out of our dreamy state.

“No, I ain’t gonna be here too long, too long,” sang Karazija on closer, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight.” An instrumental ending had Karazija down on his knees, kneeling to fiddle with the knobs at his feet. The air was filled with strange noises – one like a computer failing to reboot – as the buildings across the harbor blinked their red aircraft warning lights.

The Waves, The Calm: Low Roar
PROS
  • Soothing tunes perfect for the space
  • Super smooth transitions
CONS
  • Soundtracking the sun set was nice but crowd interaction would have been nice, too
7.3Overall Score

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