Drone Strike

alanToday a friend of mine (who I didn’t know was a Low fan) posted a link that has had me smiling all day.

I had not heard this news but it was like candy to my reading eyes.  At this weekend’s Rock The Garden music festival in Minnesota, five indie bands were gathered together to play a long evening of rock ‘n roll.  Among the bands invited were Minnesota’s own Low, the very band that inspired this website (including the name).

The crowd had just been rained on so much that some were literally standing in ankle-deep water, and as Low took the stage certainly no one was expecting what would come next:  a 14-minute, droning, noisy, ambient tune from The Curtain Hits the Cast that was stretched out to fill their entire almost 30-minute set, followed by a simple three-word punchline.  “Drone, not drones.”

Apparently the majority of the audience weren’t amused (warning: foul language in that link).

Listen, folks, I understand that:

  1. the audience was filled with people that probably don’t know the iconoclastic side of Low and were looking for just a good night of music, and that
  2. this amounted to a preachy political statement at an inconvenient time, and that
  3. people paid a lot of money to see a night of what they hoped would be music, and
  4. Alan probably alienated some potential fans by making this statement.

That having been said, reading about it has reminded me once again what made Low so life-changing for me in the first place.  Here is a band who, from the beginning, wanted to be like nothing you’ve ever heard before.  They played quietly and slowly, with subtle harmonies and lots of ambience, to crowds that often sat while listening, and would often turn their volume down in hostile venues, during the era when Grunge was hitting the scene.  And they not only succeeded in doing it, but they’ve earned a throng of loyal fans, some of them quite high-profile, and managed to stay married and active in the church, while raising children, for over 20 years.  Perhaps Alan is right that it’s a fluke, but it gives me hope that I can stay true to myself and still find a niche in life.

Secondly, without getting too political here, the issue of drone strikes by the United States government is a concern to me, and it’s sensitive, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and interrupts my daily life and thoughts in a disturbing way.  Anyone that reads a lot about the subject should lose at least a little sleep over it.  It seems to me that Alan feels the same way, and what better way to bring awareness to the issue than point it out starkly to a crowd of art fans who might be receptive to the message?  And I’m noticing that this seems to be the overlooked point of Alan’s stunt.  So Alan seems to have miscalculated, perhaps, and a crowd of 5000 potential fans might have been the casualties of that bold risk, but I’m so glad he took it.  So glad.  Like, tonight when I put my kid to bed and he was brushing his teeth I was just beaming to myself the whole time, just thinking about it.

While many of the crowd probably wanted a refund on the money they spent on Low, I literally would have paid $100 to see it.  And you know, as far as I can tell, they seem to be the most-talked-about artist that played that show – and hundreds and possibly thousands of people are hearing the phrase “drone, not drones” for the first time (including me), so perhaps Alan knew what he was doing after all.

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About Syphax

Syphax was a king of the ancient Libyan tribe Masaesyli of western Numidia during the last quarter of the third century BCE. He is also the founder of Linescratchers, a doctoral student in clinical psychology, and a singer-songwriter himself.

2 Thoughts on “Drone Strike

  1. .

    Awesome. Actual iconoclasts are rare. We should treasure the few we have.

  2. .

    Okay. I’m a couple minutes away from finishing the set. And it’s terrific. I don’t know if I could have enjoyed it with that crowd—or not expecting it—but it’s a great set. Assuming one song can be a set.

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