My First Concert: Alan Sparhawk of Low

"The opening band was so disturbing that no one wanted to stand close to them."

Sep 14, 2018 By Alan Sparhawk (as told to Matt Conner) Web Exclusive
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Musical awakenings come in all forms. For an adolescent Alan Sparhawk in Bemidji, Minnesota, he has Minnesota punk legends The Suburbs to thank for opening his eyes (and ears).

Sparhawk has undoubtedly served as the same sort of musical inspiration for so many as the guitarist/vocalist for Low. The band's genre-bending explorations on Double Negative (their new album on Sub Pop) show that Sparhawk and company aren't slowing anytime soon, even after a quarter century of making music.

In this special Under the Radar series, we asked Sparhawk to tell us about the first concert experience he could recall.

I remember being out with my parents on a field on a hillside. It was likely some outdoor concert with a stage down this hill. I remember as a teenager asking my parents if they ever took me to Woodstock but were just too embarrassed to tell me, because it would have been right around that time.

I'm at that stage where I don't like talking about my age, but I would have been one or two. I just remember being distinctly aware of the ground and the air and that there was music in it. I remember knowing that there was earth and there was the sky and music was flowing through it. I don't know. It's a weird impression that I remember.

After that, the first punk band I saw was The Suburbs when I was like 14 or something. That blew my mind completely and it set my imagination on fire. When there's only one or two shows every once in a while that comes through at the college an hour away...

I think an older friend took me and said, 'Hey, do you want to go see the show? It's kind of a punk band.' I was like, 'Oh, really? I've heard of that. I'm in.' Then it just blew my mind and expectations to the ceiling. I thought, 'This is it! This is my place!' I was focused.

That show was everything. The opening band was so disturbing that no one wanted to stand close to them. Halfway through the set, the drummer just stopped and just about jumped off stage trying to attack some guy who was starting a fight in the audience. I thought, 'Holy crap! This is amazing. These people are so alive.'

When you live out in the sticks on the edge of civilization, that stuff is like a message from God.

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September 15th 2018
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September 22nd 2018
11:04am

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devast io
October 11th 2018
7:52pm

Your music is great and very successful, I look forward to having more good concerts.

Nat
October 15th 2018
8:24am

That’s adorable. I met my husband at The Suburbs concert. It was great show. I’m thankful to the fate for bringing us together that day

Survey
October 27th 2018
1:52am

I totally agree with you, Alan. Some Bands are just a waste of time. Recently I also went to a concert but the experience was really Bad. Sometimes People seem to become Different in music taste.

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November 17th 2018
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