This was the second trip thru town for the Liars in support of their 2007 self-titled release. With an album that is oft described as their most pop/accessible, coupled with their mystifying "improptu" jam (treat or debacle depending on who you asked) with Interpol known as Reefer Duberland the last time in town, how could one not be slightly intriguied as to what might occur last Tuesday night at the Metro. With that said, one hardly needs a reason to be intriguied when the Liars are going to perform.
Discussing the accessibility of their most recent album is, of course, relative. The album is no pop album by any stretch and probably still remains inaccessible to many, although for Liars even broaching the realms of pop is a bit of a departure. The live show is no exception to this theme.
Moments before the lights dimmed a chair was wheeled out to center stage, followed by a little table placed adjacent to the chair. Julien and Aaron then took their familiar places perched behind their respective percussion and were joined by Jarrett Silberman on guitar, whom I believe is from the band Young People. Jarrett keeps a fairly anonymous presence from the side of the stage, but he does bring some incredibly atmospheric guitar work to the mix. As the lights dimmed, lead singer Angus Andrew came forth casting his usual imposing presence, due largely to his sheer height alone. He slowly walked to the chair, sat himself down and the show was underway. I was of the belief that the chair business was pure eccentricity, but post show I discovered from a band blog that it may have actually been due to some back problems Angus had suffered recently. Regardless, whether standing, strutting around the stage or sitting down with his hands and mouth wrapped around the, mic he is one of the most compelling performers in rock. There is an element of "what will he do next?" that is ever present. His antics are unorthodox to say the least but just when moments start to feel a little heavy, the air thick with a bit of self indulgence, is when he will turn to a bandmate and release a smile that seems to acknowledge and wholly embrace the absurdity.
As for the music, the audience was treated to a healthy dose of new material. Songs such as "Freak Out" and "Protection" seemed to stand out amongst the assaulting approach of some of their older material. While the albums can be difficult to listen to for long periods when in the unrestrained setting of a live show the music takes on new meaning. The true animalistic nature becomes increasingly prevalent. The percussion is at the heart of the beast, capable of whipping the room into a frenzy or bringing it to a halt. At its height the music turns tribal, capable of playing soundtrack to Aldous Huxley's "Ape and Essence," with Angus in as the Grand Inquisitor upon his throne staring out among his minions.
It is in the live setting that this music bursts forth with life. Whether coaxing you into a trance-like state to the sound of the pounding percussion or penetrating you battering ram style, as was the case with the unrelenting Plaster Casts of Everything, the live show is never dull. Whether the Liars' music is for you or not, the live show will leave its mark.
Chicagoans Aleks and the Drummer opened the show and to express our feelings towards them seems like it might be a bit redundant. Simply put ,we love them, but if you would like to read us expound upon that sentiment you can read previous reviews here and here.