There was a moment last night at Carson Creek Ranch for Austin Psych Fest that it all made sense. A notoriously hard act to pin down, L.A. trio Liars shift tone and texture like you and I might change clothes. Yet in 2014, on their second dance-oriented album Mess, it couldn’t be more obvious. They’re Throbbing Gristle!
It was all there, from Aaron Hemphill’s suit and tie and the bizarre mass of multi-colored silly string wrapped around Angus Andrews’ head, to the pulsing, atonal bleats of balled-up synth. Liars have an untamable mischievous streak, which defines them musically.
Catch Anderson screaming falsetto lullabies over his angrily warped guitar. Relish in the pitched down requests of “take my pants off,” “hit me in the face” on opening Mess track “Mask Maker.” Sometimes it’s a lot of fun to be fucked with.
Much like Throbbing Gristle, Liars never ever sound hollow. There’s a fine line between wankery and worthy experimentation, and thanks to their passion, Liars always make for a worthy live show. It doesn’t matter if it’s not your cup of tea, and you spent all day catching the deciduous vibes of campfire acts like Woods. Seeing three compelling weirdos go nuts on stage will always cast an impressive silhouette.
There was a moment towards the beginning of their set when the power snapped off and they spent a few minutes working out the problem. Once it was figured out, Angus reengaged the crowd with a couple old-fashioned “How are y’all doing tonight?1” calls. That’s right, for a few moments a noise band cared about its audience.
Don’t call Liars antisocial.
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