While the crowd anticipated Liars, music that sounded from a heavy 1960’s romantic drama blasted over the speakers. Members Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross, both multi-instrumentalists, first appeared on stage, and began radiating a delicate sound. Then with an enigmatic gusto, Angus Andrew leapt onstage to his position on the left in a suit and tie, and the noisy opera began.
The softer side of the Brooklyn-based trio slowly progressed into a droned-out tribal dance party. This new sound began and is fantastically pretty and well textured – it is actually a bit tame compared to what they were about to do next. After about ten minutes of this electronic groove they paused and revolted into “Scarecrows on a Killer Slant.” This is music made for head banging. Andrew’s mad conducting on stage matched the intensity of the cerebral fuzz that was penetrating the audiences’ ears. I could feel the feedback go in one ear and out the other.
A couple more experiments of the tangled sounds and Hemphill leaned into the microphone to say, “Thanks guys, this is our last song.” No way! They had only been playing for a half hour, tops. The Doug Fir Lounge is notorious for not doing encores, so something felt off. They left the stage, and after the crowd wooed for a couple minutes, those tricky Liars popped back up.
They smashed back into it for another fifteen minutes, making their show one of the shortest sets I’ve witnessed at Doug Fir. Seeing them play and feeling their energy is almost a completely different experience than just listening to their record. There is something wildly unique about the jumble of Liars. They are an art experience as much as a music performance. The way they watched each other showcased their subtle improvisation, and controlled chaos as if they weren’t exactly sure when each song would end. The mayhem of the Liars left my ears mystified in shambles.
As I descended the stairs into the mountain chic dungeon of the Doug Fir, I heard the poetic billows of Cadence Weapon. Armed with a microphone, this man fired out his soul with an intense passion. He wanted to be heard, he said he wanted to change us. He sang then he rhymed. His beat master’s beats were versatile, ranging from ghetto-tech and house to straight gnarly gangster. Cadence Weapon heightened the voltage of the room on the hazy summer night, and then abruptly exited the stage to make way for Liars.