The Low Anthem put out a wonderful folk-rock record last year called Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, and the Rhode Island group was back in Chicago this Tuesday (April 6), playing some new songs as well as covers of old-time folk songs. The concert at Lincoln Hall showed that this is a group with deep roots in American music, and deep talent, too. Expanded from a trio to a four-person lineup (with a fifth musician occasionally joining in on drums), the Low Anthem was in constant motion in between songs. It seemed like everyone on the stage played every instrument at some point.
The band played a few of its gritter, growly songs, but the evening was dominated by the quieter moments, with lovely falsetto vocals carrying the strong melodies. At a couple of points, all of the musicians gathered around a single old-fashioned microphone at the front of the stage, harmonizing the way bluegrass groups do.
It sounds like the Low Anthem’s next album (due sometime this fall) is going to be a good one. If you haven’t heard the Low Anthem yet, check out the video for the song “Charlie Darwin” on the band’s Web site, www.lowanthem.com.
The opening act, Nathaniel Rateliff, was a pleasant surprise. I’d never heard anything about this Denver singer-songwriter or a note of music, but he sang some compelling folk-rock songs, quickly winning me over. It seemed pretty straightforward and traditional, but also very solid.
I should be seeing Nathaniel Rateliff again later this month when the Daytrotter Barnstormer 3 tour comes through the Midwest, with concerts in actual barns in small towns featuring Rateliff along with Delta Spirit, Ra Ra Riot, Pearly Gate Music and Free Energy. I’m planning to head downstate for the April 30 show in Monticello, Illinois.