Low, Idaho, Factory Press

At the Knitting Factory, NYC

The evening opened like a take from "Wings of Desire" with Austin, Texas's Factory Press conjuring visions of The Birthday Party or The Bad Seeds (who happen to be their biggest influences). Dark, swirling, razor chords, and deep, droning vocals spun around the audience's mystified psyches. Most were too drained by the effects of the music to stand.

Idaho took the stage and immediately headed in a direction opposite of the Press. They opened with their hardest, fastest song so far, the first cut from the brilliant "Spanish Bayonet" EP. The band on this tour is the same as the one that recorded the album and they sound great together--unbelievably tight. The set was mostly songs from "Three Sheets To The Wind," although it included several songs that have just been finished, including a Nirvana-esque screamer that truly took my breath away. Fans of earlier albums (like myself) were disappointed that "Year After Year's" "Skyscrape" was the only older song on the set list. In talking with Jeff Martin after the show I found out that they usually play more mature cuts.

Minnesota's Low were obviously impressed by the large turnout and the warm reception. The lead singer was definitely nervous and self-effacing. I got the impression they had never played to a crowd of such welcoming fans. Their sound was truly fabulous-- spare, haunting, bitter-sweet, lazy, warmer than the albums. The crowd was deathly quiet through every song and applauded madly at the end of each. It was a truly meditative, spiritual experience. The absence of their "Transmission" cover was glaring, however.

Factory Press are on Austin's N.D. Records with the up-and-coming Vish Shift (not to be confused with the cheesy New York Shift). Low has two albums and an EP on Virgin's Vernon Yard label, Idaho's three albums are on Caroline and they are all pretty easy to find in stores. Less available, but worth seeking out is Idaho's "Spanish Bayonet" on Fingerpaint records.

Dave Robbins
© 1996, Rational Alternative Digital