Low's set at Sixth & I Synagogue on Monday night was, in my opinion, fantastic. The band's minimalist arrangements sounded especially haunting in the domed sanctuary, and the new material (particularly "Just Make it Stop" from 2013's Jeff Tweedy-produced "The Invisible Way") sounded just as vital and spare and unsettling as the old material. ("Monkey," forever and ever.)
Shortly after opener Mike Doughty (formerly the lead singer of Soul Coughing) concluded his opening set, a large digital clock was projected behind the stage: Thanks to this bit of stage management, I knew I had exactly 9 minutes and 40 seconds to fetch a plastic tumbler of beer from the basement bar.
The clock was all Low's doing, according to Sixth & I's Aaron Weintraub. "I also thought it was pretty cool and will potentially use the idea for future shows," he said.
Published set times are helpful, and places like the 9:30 Club and Black Cat do their best to keep bands on schedule. It's up to the bands and their tour managers too, of course, but I would love to see clubs offer some kind of notice to patrons five or 10 minutes before the band actually takes the stage, while the band is concluding whatever pre-show rituals they adhere to.
Even something more subtle than a digital clock, like the blinking of concourse lights at a theater, or the dimming of flood lights at a hockey game. It would be as if to say, "Seriously, people: This is your last chance to grab a beer or hit the bathroom before it gets dark and noisy and less than navigable in here." One last trip to the bar or bathroom really can make all the difference.
(For the record, Low were ready to go right when the clock hit zero.)