Liars are one of those bands that I think most have heard before, but never seen live and probably don’t know much about. It was the same for me even after seeing them for the third time, this time at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS; they still maintained that air of mystery. Even going so far as to have the drummer, Julian Gross, sit down next to me to watch the opening act, John Wiese, and deny he was part of the band and then proceeded to ask me for two hair bands for his hair, which he later put into braids.
The set would consist mainly of songs from their new album, SisterWorld, although it would be an agonizing wait before we got there. The bill was set to start at 8 p.m. and I even called to confirm this time the day of the show. After arriving promptly at 8 p.m. I would then sit and stare at the slow-filtering crowd until nearly 10:30 p.m. When the venue felt that there were a sufficient amount of people inside to consume their products, they sent John Wiese to the stage. Although, no one actually knew he was really on stage as he was playing in the dark. Even I was caught off guard as it is customary to keep the stage dark during an artist’s intro and turn up the lights when they appear. I began to question my thoughts when this strange humming of an “intro” went on and on for more than three or four minutes. As I approached the stage to take a peek, sure enough there was a man sitting at a bar table rigged with a laptop and many cords leading to different parts of the stage. He can best be described as an artist from LA that practices in the art of free noise. It’s hard to describe to those that weren’t there but I would say that his tunes/noise could fit very hauntingly with a haunted house exhibit, or for those participating in ‘Shrooms as you will probably see his music better than hear and interpret it.
After a brief 20-25 minute set, they cleared the table and the stage was already set for Liars. They came out about five minutes later to an abundantly excited, yet mellow crowd. The stage was now brighter than previously, but not by much; must of been to remain mysterious. One thing that excited me about seeing them again is no matter how many times I listen to their albums, there are many lyrics that I just can’t make out. I was excited to be able to see the lips of Angus moving and be able to make out some of those secret lines I have yet to decipher. Unfortunately, as per the previous shows I had attended, Angus likes to hold his secrets close to the chest as he sings into the microphone with it almost halfway into his mouth. The rest of the mic is just covered by his gripping hands.
The band consisted of the three originals: Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross and they were joined by two other men for guitar and bass. The group worked well together but it was obvious who were the originals by the multiple instruments they were wielding throughout the set. The group defies explanation and genres like no one else. They are experimental at best, but have also been described as post-punk revival, electro-acoustic or most popularly dance punk. I would prefer not to label them as well. Yes, they experiment with sounds, atmospheric or otherwise and yes, they make you dance with their beats at times, but overall their music is captivating. With lyrics such as, “I bought a house with you, we settled down with cats, there wasn’t much to do, so we just sat and watched the TV” being chanted and shouted over the rolling waves of music behind it, you have to wonder if he sings about a life he sees in others or a life he feels he is drowning from. The song is called “The Overachievers” by the way. Between the lyrics that are indistinguishable, you can make out feelings of a fear of the unknown and a knowledge for things we will never know.
However, there are definitely some lighter songs that the crowd really lit up for such as “Plaster Casts of Everything” and “Freak Out”. Both of which easily fit into the dance category and boy did the crowd dance something weird. I guess if the music was experimental to start then there is no excuse for repeat dance moves and elbows went flying. The song “Freak Out” is really one of my favorites after seeing it live. See if you are listening to the lyrics, there is no reason not to dance, and the crowd obeyed, but the lyrics are sung in such a monotone with very mellow beats behind them that it just feels odd at times. The song serves as an oxymoron in itself, but that didn’t bother anyone.
It’s not often anymore that you can see a lead singer without a guitar strung around him as they are expected to lead with more than their voices anymore. However, without Angus working his vocals and the effects that help him to sound ethereal at times, the band would not exist. He also uses his free time wisely and dances around stage just enough to entice the crowd into wanting more. This is possibly the root of the odd dancing seen in the crowd as he almost considers walking very slowly around the stage with two thumbs up a new dance move.
Their new album SisterWorld is available now as well as their other albums: They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top; They Were Wrong, So We Drowned; Drum’s Not Dead, and the self-titled Liars. For more information, albeit not much more, visit their website liarsliarsliars.com. Their tour is now continuing overseas and until they are back in the states I would recommend picking up their albums if you love any of these: Radiohead, Interpol, Pink Floyd, Modest Mouse or the voice of Jim Morrison.
Set ListThere’s Always Room On The Broom Scarecrows On A Killer Slant I Still Can See An Outside World The Garden Was Crowded And Outside Sailing To Byzantium The Overachievers
No Barrier Fun Clear Island Here Comes All The People Scissor Flat Field by The Bauhaus Freak Out Proud Evolution Plaster Casts Of Everything
I give Liars 4 “dancing brings us together” out of 5
by Angela Davis