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The plan from there was to catch the underloved Detroit heroes and always surprisingly good live band, Jamaican Queens. For once in their lives, at least, they packed a room past capacity. For the first time in two years, I was unable to get in to a Hopscotch show. (Only once, and this was it! Think about that big-city festival goers.) It was a tiny upstairs space, but good for them.
Somehow Mount Moriah has Foucault playing pedal steel. #hopscotch13 pic.twitter.com/BHIoULfsRS
— Brent S. Sirota (@BrentSirota) September 7, 2013
The back-up plan was to catch perpetually underrated Sub Pop rocker Scout Niblett in the third, well-hidden theater space of the huge Memorial Auditorium complex. Only made it for the last song, which was delicate in spots, mammoth and crunching in others. It was a chunk of grunge as classic rock gold, and a fleeting moment well worth catching.
It's hard to gush about a live band's "restraint" without sounding like a haughty jazz critic, trying to rationalize a performance that his ego depends on him enjoying. But there was no strain in loving Low's set, my favorite of the weekend. It was so minimal and economically executed that it took maybe four songs to realize, HOLY SHIT are Alan and Mimi Sparhawk good singers. They aren't showy, melismatic singers by any means but in an actual opera theater, with every sound held in the air in a pristine state, the purity of their harmonies can't be downplayed. The Duluth, MN, band's 2000 LP Things We Lost in the Fire is one of my favorite records of all time, because it's all quiet mystery and ominous lyrical puzzles that never lose their power on repeat. The set, a suitably rocking tour through a 15-year body of work, made me kind of ashamed and confused that I haven't kept up with them very religiously since. With this level of talent and control, there just must be gems on all of their recent records, even if I've been weirdly aloof in figuring out which ones they are. I left the room determined to correct that.