Maria BC, Alan Sparhawk (Of Low)
Nofun, 2.23.24

Maria BC

Maria BC is an ambient artist from Oakland, California.

I guess the best way I can put the set is just how quiet it was. The venue was absolutely still, pretty much not a single noise heard. Then I accidentally dropped my camera battery. Oops.

All it was was just a the main vocalist/guitarist and a guitarist, but man, did they create a wall of sound. A gentle wall of sound, I'd say. It seemed that every song that they went through connected seemlessly with one another. It was heavy on vocals and gentle guitar sounds. A lot of new ambient acts tend to be heavier on the vocals side, but are usually paired with keyboards, modular synths, and DAWs. It was a breath of fresh air to see an act like Maria BC bring ambient back to what made it such a compelling genre. (not to shame on Grouper in any way)

Maria BC's Bandcamp

Alan Sparhawk

Low is a pretty big band. I really wanted to get a good spot before the show. I stood at the front for about 20 minutes before the set started, and I'm pretty sure I forgot to have a drink of water beforehand. Taking risks, but I wasn't running on empty, I had Chinese food before I went here. Ma po tofu and beef with vegetables. I probably wasn't going to pass out...?

To understand things, this isn't really a solo act. Low ceased to exist after Mimi Parker's death, so it was just Sparhawk's own band (which I believe his kids were playing in?). It didn't really sound like Low at all, but at the same time had the same effect that Low had, with heavy distortion and pedals. It was rhythmic like a jam band, complete with weird auto-tune and high pitch vocal pedal(s) that Sparhawk occasionally threw into the set during random songs.

Sparkhawk wanted the set to be as sentimental as possible, and he delivered, and interacted a bit with the audience too. It was a great set, over an hour long.

Information about Low

Low's website

Also, I doubt the artists are reading this, but I really tried to keep the flash photography at a minimum, and I do apologize if it got in the way (a show like this isn't very fitting for flash anyways).

When it comes to show photography, there's a lot to consider when it comes to lighting and subjects. I'm not personally I huge proponent of flash during shows, but only if it's applicable in a respective way to the artists. The last show I went to, February 9th, is an exception (I'm not confident with film in low light even with my knowledge), but with this show I did some experimental stuff with the flash (closing aperture to f11, 1/2"), while mostly keeping to natural lighting without flash. It works, people. There was this guy next to me that was using flash every time he snapped a photo, so please, don't be like him.