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Just a Little Patience

May 2nd, 2012

Lower Dens – Mercury Lounge – May 1, 2012


Lower Dens is one of those bands that’s been tagged with a variety of labels, from post-punk to New Wave and drone rock to freak folk. And as with many contemporary acts that claim numerous influences and combine pure instrumentation with the array of modern sound technologies available, no single category seems to exactly describe the group.

Early into the set at Mercury Lounge last night, another genre came to mind, although put forward as more of a suggestion of psychedelic rock than a pure exhibition of this past-era mold, it was evident that this Jana Hunter-led collective aimed to set a mood owing to the title of the band’s just-released sophomore album, Nootropics. Much like the purpose of nootropic drugs, the arrangement succeeded in captivating, rather than sedating. Bathed in blue light from start to finish, Hunter blended her hypnotically bluesy vocals with the swirling drone provided with nuanced coordination by her bandmates.

The result entranced but never to the point of giving the sense of floating in a bubble off in space, thanks to the pulsing, yet restrained immediacy of the rhythm section. With songs like “Lamb,” “I Get Nervous” and the uncharacteristically surging “Brains,” a balance was struck between darkly ethereal and steadily progressive. So even while the band appeared to contemplate what would come next during some sustained pauses between songs, the crowd’s attention never waned. After one such pause, Hunter politely asked for patience, to which an audience member cracked, “What’s New York, if not patient?” But everyone was willing to oblige, content in knowing their patience would be rewarded with a dose of Lower Dens. —Charles Steinberg

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com