All the obituaries were written in real time. Sketching drunken notes as the chaos ebbs and rendering them remotely accurate in the light is the only way to really get close to the truth. With the benefit of hindsight, everything else is just distorted golden fog nostalgia. Before Low End, there was something but it was really nothing. There were nights on Hollywood Blvd or Sunset or some disorienting warehouse where the light was shrill and the bass was diluted.
It was corny, straight up. Neon frauds with questionable taste and dubious drugs who put a premium on the party above all. Low End was conceived as the polar opposite. The club for people who hated clubs. Who would’ve been Minutemen fans in a different decade, but came up on Dre and Snoop and Shadow and Dilla and suddenly wondered where everyone who wanted to know what the future sounded like had gone. Low End was where they reunited and forged a bunker open to all. Of course, the real spells came when almost no one was looking. Before Thom Yorke played Fela and DOOM and Odd Future played their first show and became satraps of psychedelic socks. If you were there, we’ll talk about it one day. If you weren’t, the only advice I can give you is to build your own shrine and make sure there’s a dance floor. Magic only rarely happens by accident.
The dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum, but sometimes, the smart ones succumb to the same philosophy. At the right moment in the right spot, you could feel the bass reach in through your mouth, down through your heart, until it felt practically disemboweling. Nuclear energy shattering your marrow. Every week seemed to produce another prodigy, the axis between London and Bristol and Los Angeles was crystalline and telepathic. Listening to Mary Anne Hobbs bootlegs to hear the latest from your backyard. Quietly filing into the queue every Wednesday for communion. All the while aware that one day it would have to end, and tonight it does.
There is too much to say that it requires a book. Maybe I’ll write it one day. Maybe I won’t. No one who was there will tell you that the end isn’t bittersweet, poisoned by heartbreak, division, etc. All the things that it never was supposed to be. But we are human beings and the only guarantee is what we build will eventually be destroyed. We can only choose to remember those moments that no one will ever be able to take from us. Low End produced too many of those and I suspect that when the final epilogues are written, we will hopefully focus on what it meant — and the blueprint it supplied to keep us going.
This is a dark age, but Low End was always light, a respite and sanctuary, a lit spliff and a safe haven from the sanctimony and greed, the corporate sponsorships and the clout. Nothing can ever be really pure, but it came close for a very long time. It was the place. It must’ve been. The club that could be your life. 2006-2018. No one who went will ever forget it.