The Low Anthem
ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 9, 2009
The Low AnthemOct. 2, Zilker Park
The Low Anthem is basking in contradiction, torn between the alternating pulls of howled, unsettling grit and delicately resolute Americana ballads. The Rhode Island trio revels equally in anachronism, most apparent when frontman Ben Knox Miller reached behind an antique organ for a pair of cell phones, vibrating their static frequencies into the microphone during the aching "This God Damn House." The Austin Ventures stage was a veritable carnival of instruments, from a rusted French horn and Jocie Adams' clarinet and xylophone-styled rack of cymbals to Jeff Prystowsky's upright bass, which launched the set in a mad, insurgently thumped breakdown for the gospel-flared "Don't Let Nobody Turn You 'Round." Miller growled with a scarred abandon that never approached the ethereal falsetto tinting sophomore album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin yet rankled Southern dirt on "Home I'll Never Be." Even as songs like the hushed "Ticket Taker" and haunted "The Ballad of the Broken Bones" acknowledged the incongruity of quieter sounds for a festival stage, the Low Anthem's closing take on country classic "Cigarettes and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women," with Adams' wailing fervent harmony, proved otherwise.