(Taylor Hicks, pledging to play whatever the people wanna hear at Rock The Garden 2014)

Over the weekend, Duluth, MN’s venerable Low performed as part of Saturday’s Rock The Garden festival at Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center.  The show’s co-sponsors, public radio outlet The Current, report that Low performed a 27 minute version of “Do You Know How to Waltz?” from 1996’s “The Curtain Hits The Cast”,  “and stretched out the song’s jammy, droning coda to create an unending wall of noise.”   It seems that not everyone in attendance was thrilled by Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s creative direction that afternoon, and the radio station quotes one outraged patron as insisting,  “we paid them to put on a show and they didn’t. They very do literally owe us”.  And yeah, you paid $55, perhaps musicians should put on clown makeup, take requests and give you a hand job back rub after the set?

Not to sound unsympathetic towards persons who paid for tickets (I do that most of the time) or had to arrange for babysitters (I’ve heard of such things), but there’s plenty of bands who will gladly jump thru flaming hoops and/or do the human jukebox thing for you. That they’re not restricted to the state fair circuit and actually constitute a large portion of what you hear on stations like The Current (or KCRW, WXPN, KUT, KEXP, etc.) is neither a good or a bad thing, but it hints at the sort of sensibilities Low encounter when they play one 27 minute piece and call it a day.

I’m sure there’s folks who found the whole thing self-indulgent, but whether a show is free rf $5 or $25 or whatever, admission doesn’t entitle the audience to select the repertoire. That Low or anyone else would be obliged to put on a certain type of show simply because that’s whats expected in that kind of setting sounds to me like a terrific argument for doing anything but. I’m tempted to conclude something entirely unhelpful, like, “this is what happens when you share a bill with Silversun Pickups”, but this sort of “you owe us” attitude exists in other settings, too.   But really, it’s called the Walker Arts Center, not the Walker Glorified Karaoke Snore-atorium (& Launching Pad For Bands Who Wanna Be On The Closing Credits of  “The Newsroom”).