Years [and years] ago, I worked at a restaurant that was located above the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. I would usually show up early and wander through the rooms before my shift. I’d stare at the art hanging on the walls until eventually a piece would catch my eye and I would sit in front of it until it was time to go upstairs to serve tables. I was joined by my buddy Nick on one of these strolls and he wandered through the gallery with me pointing at paintings while giving a one word review for each—“Cool. Shit. Neat…” Twenty-something art-school me tried to tell him that appreciating all art was important, but he was having none of it and carried on labelling each piece, “Crap. Interesting. Colourful. Shit.”
So when an email containing a link toWelcome to the Plunderdome, the new offering from Lowest of the Low, landed in my inbox a few days ago [thanks James!], I was super excited to “review” it.
There aren’t a lot of things that make me happier than hearing new music from a band that I love… and I’ve been having a love affair with these guys since 1991. Like many Canadians, I immediately fell in love with Shakespeare My Butt and it quickly became a desert island pick alongside other greats like Revolver, Diamond Dogs and London Calling. After Shakespeare came Hallucigenia [also fantastic]. That was followed by a breakup, a reunion tour, another breakup, a comeback with more great music…
Which brings us to Subversives | The History Of Lowest of the Low a doc by Simon Head which tells the story of a band who stuck their collective middle fingers high in the air every time anyone tried to steer them in a direction that wasn’t theirs [more fantastic]. I bought two tickets for the Toronto screening of the film at the Rivoli and took LL photographer and friend, Mike Neal with me. Mike is a photographer who subscribes to the “Low ethos,” which in his case means he’s constantly shooting bands, but only bands he loves and respects. This includes the shots of Lowest of the Low at Lee’s Palace on December 2, 2022 featured here.
On my way out of the Rivoli that night, I saw Low leader, Ron Hawkins and the Baroness, and congratulated them on the film. Ron flashed that boyish and slightly mischievous grin of his and asked if had learned anything about the Low from the film… “ya I did… I may be the über Low fan in my circle of friends but I’m far from a Low historian. It’s funny,” I continued, “any time I attend an event attached to Ron Hawkins, I feel like I’ve been invited to a party and the only person I know is the host—here, I’m the lowest of the Low fans!”It’s obviously not a bad thing… I keep showing up at all the parties!
Low fans are tight and loyal… I always recognize faces at their shows. One of the faces I recognized at the Rivoli was Karyn Ruiz from Lilliput Hats. I repeated this convo to her and she laughed, “I feel exactly the same!” Coming from the girl who [I assume] designed most of the cool hats in the room made me feel better.
A couple of weeks later, Karyn posted a pic of her newly delivered copy of Welcome to the Plunderdome.
“I see you have the new Low album.” I messaged.
“It just arrived and sadly I don’t have a turntable in the shop, so it’ll have to wait ‘till I get home tonight.”
That’s it… that’s the review… one [made up] word “superfantastical.” Sure I can say it rocks… it swings [thanks in part to horns provided by The Legitimizers]… the lyrics are political and social… it’s punk AF… it’s everything I expect from a Low album… but I’m sticking with superfantastical.
As crude as Nick’s review technique sounded at the time, it makes total sense to me now… Art resonates with us or it doesn’t. To this day, I’m still waiting for Drake to release something that I find even remotely intriguing [you can fight me on this], but a band who’s music never disappoints me is Lowest of the Low[and you can fight me on this too]. Give Welcome to the Plunderdome a listen and if you don’t find it superfantastical, you can fight me on this too.