Lower Dens Inspires at Barracuda

 The chilled 80s synth rock of Lower Dens and front person Jana Hunter creates a unique sort of rock enigma on stage, as evidenced by the gentle “Will you please have my babies” cried out by an audience member during their show at the Barracuda this past Friday. 

The opening bands perfectly fit the dynamics at play within Lower Den’s aesthetic. Local jangle pop band, Slideshow, maintained a good energy and experimental sitar player and vocalist Ami Dang was transcendent. Both acts worked well with the crowd’s growing anticipation and made the venue their own. 

 When Lower Dens took the stage, they did not disappoint. As great as all of the band’s records are, the songs take on an entirely different form when played live. They become more vibrant, and the energy is amped up about a thousand times. The synth packs a deeper punch underneath the drums and bass when played live. Hunter also has a strong stage presence; he held all the attention in the room without demanding it or taking up too much space. New and old songs were played with the same amount of passion. “Drive” and “Ondine” were both played beautifully and received well. 

The romantic dystopia that Lower Dens creates in their music is wonderfully replicated on stage, as well. Most of Hunter’s music deals with isolation in confrontation with desire and identity, and in doing so he creates a space for his audience to seek comfort they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. It was easy to find that comfort on stage, with warmth emanating from each member as they performed. The live performance cuts right through the bones of the loneliness the music speaks of. If this wasn’t obvious alone from their performance, the looks of comfort and quiet rapture on the faces of more committed audience members certainly provides enough evidence for it. 


The quieter moments had a very 'last call at the bar' vibe. The band held intimate moments within each beat that gave people space to interpret the song however they wanted. “Suckers Shangi-la” was a perfect moment of catharsis. It was the soft, lonely fantasy world everyone needs to escape to once in awhile.


- Avril Carillo