Earlier this month, fans of San Francisco’s local music scene were treated to a surprising bit of welcome news: Low Red Land, a rock trio that made this city home for years, will be reuniting for a performance at the Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho.
The group — which combined elements of aggressive hardcore, bucolic alt-country, dreamy shoegaze, and classic rock sounds to form a unique and disparate sonic template — had been dormant since playing a triumphant farewell show on July 4, 2011 at El Rio. Vocalist and guitarist Neil Thompson moved back to the East Coast, leaving drummer Mark Devito and bassist Ben Thorne to pursue other ventures.
While Low Red Land never quite broke through to the national scene, their relentless touring schedule and workmanlike commitment to their craft earned them plenty of fans among their musical contemporaries. That enduring admiration extended well beyond San Francisco too, as evidenced by the group’s inclusion in Treefort, which will take place March 22-26 at various downtown venues in Boise and includes acts like Mac DeMarco and The Lower Dens.
Here is what Treefort co-founder Eric Gilbert had to say about Low Red Land:
“This band represents to me what drives the core spirit of Treefort and our approach to curation across the forts. This band is one of the greatest bands I’ve ever seen. Probably new to most, but held in such high respect amongst their touring comrades from their days on the battlefield. I remember the first time I saw them — playing in an empty retail space in downtown Missoula in 2007. My band had been added to their show at the last minute. They were gracious and loud. From there we would cross paths many more times on the DIY touring scene, from New York to San Francisco, to the several times they joined us for multiple stops in Idaho (Moscow, McCall, Pocatello, Rexburg, Hailey, Tumbleweeds). The last time I saw them play was July 4th, 2012 in the Mission. I believe that was the last time they played for an audience. They are reuniting for Treefort 2017.”
Pretty high praise.
Low Red Land, which released two full-length albums, The Weight of Nations and Dog Hymns, have always been friends of The Bay Bridged, contributing tour blogs and playing many company-sponsored events. They’re three tremendous people, and have gone on to do great things since the band split up. Devito presides over a mini-empire of bars in the Mission District, founding and running establishments like Dr. Teeth, Cease and Desist, and Standard Deviant Brewing. Thorne started Sneaky’s, a great Carolina-style BBQ catering company (and one that helped with this guy’s wedding.) Thompson is happily living in Brooklyn, working as a project coordinator for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
It remains to be seen if future dates for Low Red Land could be in the offing, which is all the more reason to sketch out a little trip to the Pacific Northwest this spring. It’s been more than five years since Low Red Land has performed, and this reunion gig could be their final go-round. I’m making travel plans — hopefully I’ll have some local company joining me.