Lowest of the Low

Event Details

Details Price Qty
The Lowest of the Low - General Admission Showshow details + $57.50 (CAD)*  

* price includes taxes

  • August 9, 2024
    8:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Fiercely independent iconic Canadian legends Lowest of the Low, amid what can only be described as a full-on resurgence, finally make their way back to Halifax for one show only at The Carleton on Friday, August 9th. Show time is 8 PM and tickets are $50 + HST. This kind of event is the rarest of the rare, so get your tickets early!   Note this is a STANDING show.  Limited seating is available with a dinner reso 6:30 PM or earlier.  Email reservations@thecarleton.ca to confirm.

It’s a strange thing to be one of the most lauded independent Canadian bands of all time; it’s almost a back-handed compliment, since it feels like the “independent” qualifier is somehow intended to lessen the achievement. Shouldn’t it be cause for greater celebration when you make your name without the muscle and reach of a major label?

You can trace the roots of the Lowest of the Low back to 1983, when Ron Hawkins and David Alexander played together as teenagers in a heavily politicized, straight-edge band called Social Insecurity.  That led to the band Popular Front in the late 80s, where Ron and David were joined by guitarist Stephen Stanley. At one point they boasted as many as eight players, but the three friends remained the core as other members came and went. Popular Front evolved into Lowest of the Low, and shortly afterwards Hawkins traded his four-string in when John Arnott joined on bass.

By the time 4,000 copies of what came to be known as Shakespeare My Butt… had found homes, the Low secured distribution through indie outfit Page Publications (run by ex-Barenaked Ladies singer Stephen Page’s father Victor). Within what felt like a few weeks, they were setting sales records for indie bands at the HMV Superstore and in heavy rotation on Toronto alt-rock station CFNY with songs like “Salesmen, Cheats And Liars”, “Rosy And Grey”, “Bleed A Little While Tonight” and “Eternal Fatalist”.

The Low cut a swath across Canada on their own terms, showing downtown bars and college pubs alike one hell of a time. They also became sought-after opening acts for international artists as their live show gradually mutated into a full-on, window-rattling behemoth. Before the conclusion of ’93, the Low entered into a deal with London Smith Discs (LSD) to record their second full-length album, and A&M Records agreed to distribute what would become Hallucigenia upon its release in early ’94. Making the record had been frustrating, as the band sparred frequently with high-profile producer Don Smith. That experience, along with some escalating substance abuse and good old fashioned burnout from their relentless touring schedule, led to the band realizing things had come undone. In Autumn 1994, Lowest of the Low closed up shop so abruptly that fans didn’t really have a chance to say a proper goodbye.

The band played several euphoric reunion shows on either side of the border, including an open-air Toronto jamboree in the summer of 2001 with spiritual mentor Billy Bragg and kindred CanRock spirits The Weakerthans. The camaraderie of those gigs led to a creative explosion that yielded not only the stellar hybrid live/studio album Nothing Short Of A Bullet later that same year, but also their third long player. Sordid Fiction debuted in 2004, with production duties handled by Toronto rock legend Ian Blurton.

The band were inducted into the Canadian Indie Music Hall of Fame in 2008, and weren’t active again until 2010 when they released a remastered 20th anniversary edition of Shakespeare My Butt… with a companion DVD full of archival footage and a newly-recorded instrumental score by Ron and Steve. They capped the activities for this release in March 2011 with a triumphant headlining show at Toronto’s venerable Massey Hall. It’s a life goal for all Canadian musicians, but it held special significance for Steve who had dreamt of treading the boards since working there as an usher in his youth.

2017 heralded another album, Do The Right Now, featuring a mixture of cracking new material and two absurdly hooky ‘lost’ songs from the Shakespeare era. Even with the inclusion of the older tunes, the entire record served as a thematic treatise on the importance of living in the moment. Hawkins, Alexander, Nichols, and MacMillan were joined in the studio by drummer Jody Brumell and journeyman bassist Derrick Brady, while Michael McKenzie (formerly of Universal Honey) handled lead guitar duties on all ensuing tour dates.

The Low put an end to that ‘independent’ qualifier in 2018 by inking a deal with Warner Music Canada, which not only didn’t cause the sky to fall but led to the release of Shakespeare My Box!!…, a career-spanning vinyl retrospective. The sumptuously packaged set included all four studio albums, an extra record full of new material, previously unreleased or commercially unavailable tracks, demos, remixes and live cuts, plus a poster, stickers, hand-written lyric sheets and a beautiful full-colour booklet bursting at the seams with pics and ephemera from the Low’s plentiful archives.

That brings us to today, where the band (now featuring full time members McKenzie on lead guitar and The Weakerthans’ Greg Smith handling the bottom end) are about to unleash AgitPop, a bristling, buzzing collection of modern day protest songs that harken back to Hawkins’ earliest days as a writer of ‘capital P’ political tunes. Its 14 ridiculously hooky yet heartfelt cuts, produced by Grammy-winner David Bottrill (Tool, Muse, Smashing Pumpkins) and recorded at Toronto’s Union Sound Company with Chris Stringer and Darren McGill, serve as the most melodic manifesto since Nick Lowe penned “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding?” in 1974. From Lowe to the Low; it’s (r)evolution, baby.