Jana Hunter of Lower Dens is a native Texan in case you didn’t know, and although she’s living it up in Baltimore to fulfill her greatest introspective potential with the band, she said herself that the show at Club Dada had her beyond excited. And with the nearly-packed venue anxious to see them live and in-person, Lower Dens was not about to disappoint.
But as we all know, before the headlining foursome would show there would be some opening acts – two, to be exact, and in a surprise twist, a comedian was the first to take the tiny corner stage.
Alan Resnick is obsessed with his own face, which he so gratuitously told the audience almost immediately on stage, and he has due cause – he’s dedicated several years (and his comedy routine) to creating a digital backup version of himself, so that his friends and family will have a way to interact with him in the event of his death.
Resnick’s way of interacting with his audience and delivering his routine reminds me of Anziz Azari in terms of his voice and gestures. Everything Resnick says is delivered in a cute, boyish tone, always excitedly and full of small giggles before every punchline. The laughs from the audience came from the way he presented himself more than anything, and the way he combined childlike manner with some pretty politically incorrect statements (“You know how wives are always so weak and stupid?” he gets out between grandiose laughs that proved even stupid jokes can get a laugh just by how they’re delivered).
Watching Resnick talk with his digital self was more or less the same thing, where you could tell the audience mostly enjoyed the computer’s exaggerated expressions and awkward laughs than anything else.
Coming right up after a plethora of wife jokes was Montreal’s badass girl power group No Joy (badass male drummer included).
You know when shows are so awesome and loud that it not only makes you want to jump around but literally rocks your face too? That’s what I saw with No Joy once they owned the stage. As a group that, admittedly, I had only very recently heard of, I didn’t know what to expect seeing them live, and boy was I in for a treat.
I’ve always wanted to be that cool rock chick with the crazy long hair that was always headbang worthy, but sadly God didn’t give me the rock-out gene that this group had (nor the appropriate hair follicles to achieve maximum hair whipping). It was like Nirvana had a sister band from the 21st century to carry on its grungy legacy, and No Joy delivered.
Every song was always pumped up to maximum energy, whether the lead singer was glued to her microphone, the guitarists literally shaking their guitars in excitement or the drummer going absolutely nuts behind them. I was surprised there wasn’t a mosh pit forming around me, but then again, Lower Dens fans aren’t exactly the mosh pit type. Either way, the energy in the room spoke for itself – everyone was hyped and ready to go.
And at 10:30 it was time for the group everyone was waiting for, and the crowd was pushed up to the very front of the stage as soon as setup began.
Instead of the usual purple or blue spotlights, Lower Dens opted for none at all – the only thing accompanying their playing was a somewhat water-like show of color spots floating around the screen behind them, giving the audience small, strobe-like glances of them here and there to really amp up the mystery of the music.
Lower Dens has always been really vocal about their musical style and their interests in all things human and existential, and you could tell just by their opening instrumentals – a slowly building, keyboard synth-enhanced journey into the inner mind, or space, or the unknown limbo between human and machine. And throughout the whole set that style never faltered.
At a stark contrast from No Joy, the crowd attitude for Lower Dens was a flowy, dreamlike state with everyone swaying and bouncing on the tips of their toes to the long drawn-out riffs alongside the dominating keyboard sounds. Even the group themselves were permanently in the moment as if trapped in a dream driven by their own music, only awoken between songs as if shaken back into reality.
And when it comes to harmonies, there are few, if any, bands who can mesh so well on not only the dips and bends of the syllables but the hauntingly beautiful tone that results from matching highs with lows.
The highlight of the set came from their performance of “Truss Me” from their 2010 debut, full-length album “Twin-Hand Movement,” at the urging from the crowd to play it. Even through their weariness of playing it (neither the drummer nor the guitarist knew it), they powered through and provided a seemingly flawless performance (or else they hid any mistakes very well) that had everyone roaring with applause at the finish.
After the show everyone filed out to hang out with the bands, who were more than happy to chat and share some drinks the second they left the stage. From the success of this performance, it seems that the next time Lower Dens aims to play a set in DFW, they’ll be met with an even larger audience.
Be sure to check out our photo gallery of the show here!