It was just supposed to be another installment in a weekly residency by another of Alan Sparhawk's side-project bands. Fans got a hint something else was afoot, though, when they saw Sparhawk's wife Mimi Parker setting up her drum kit.

"I think we're going to see a Low gig tonight," one attendee remarked before the music started Tuesday night at Icehouse in south Minneapolis.

Yes, and not just any Low gig. Tuesday's surprise appearance was the first live in-person performance by the internationally beloved Duluth band since before the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the trio's first gig with new bassist Liz Draper, and its first in support of Low's 13th album, "Hey What," due out Sept. 10 via Sub Pop Records.

Sparhawk, Parker and Draper played the new record almost straight through. Opening song "White Horses" found Sparhawk channeling a somber Neil Young, as he's wont to do. But subsequent tunes proved this is another richly varied and at times starkly intimate Low LP, those latter qualities enhanced by the laid-back and attentive vibe on Icehouse's patio (aside from the occasional barking dog).

The third song, "All Night," found Parker and Sparhawk melding in perfect harmony singing about sleepless nights and an unspoken "adversary" (take your pick). Their incomparable vocal work continued to shine over a frayed, distorted guitar drone in the especially haunting "Disappearing."

Without some of the studio wizardry of producer BJ Burton — back for his third Low record in a row — the single "Days Like These" sounded impressively raw and almost confrontational in concert, giving new meaning to indie-rock's loud-quiet-loud dictum with truly jarring loud bursts and quiet pauses.

In a good way, it was easy to miss Draper for her first appearance with Low following the departure of longtime bassist Steve Garrington (who's now living in the Twin Cities and has been gigging of late with Lanue). A regular on-stage companion of Charlie Parr, Draper has also played with Soul Asylum and the Okee Dokee Brothers and came up in the Minnesota scene via the innovative hip-hop/jazz-rock band Black Blondie.

Tuesday's unannounced gig was a warm-up to Low's fall tour, which kicks off Sept. 10 and 11 at the Square Lake Festival in Stillwater.

"We thought it be good to prime the pump since we haven't played in a while," Sparhawk explained in true Land of 10,000 Lakes speak. He later name-checked a metal classic as he noted the new album — and thus Tuesday's set — clocked in at just over 40 minutes: "Hey, 'Reign in Blood' was only like 20 minutes," he noted.

Turned out, Sparhawk's new band Derecho — the would-be star attraction on Tuesday — was also worth the price of admission on its own.

The group also features omnipresent, Duluth-bred singer/songwriter and utility player Al Church on drums, Izzy Cruz on congas and other percussion and Cyrus Sparhawk (yep, Alan and Mimi's kid) on bass, and together they unabashedly deliver a family jam-session vibe. They specialize in soulful '70s stoner funk, with Church sounding like he's trying out for the Meters and Sparhawk adding a little metallic edge here and there. Some of the definitive covers on Tuesday included Curtis Mayfield's "Tripping Out" and the Isley Brothers' "Footsteps in the Dark."

Tuesday's set was the last installment of Derecho's Icehouse residency, but there's still a chance to catch the new band in action before Low's fall tour: It's due to make a guest appearance for the first night of the "First Avenue Goes to the Fair" shows at the Minnesota State Fair's West End Stage on Friday, a revue-style affair for which Church is serving as ringleader.

Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658