El Rey, Feb 22, 2008

By Jonah Flicker

Liars are a constantly shifting band, taking a new tack on dark post-punk, experiments in early industrial music, and tribal minimalism with each new record they release. Their debut effort, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (Mute, 2002), indicated yet another band entrenched in the then nascent dance-punk movement, albeit with heavy shades of Suicide and Pigface thankfully mucking up the formula. Since then, they’ve opted for a more abstract vision with an emphasis on drums, drums, and more drums. The band’s recent self-titled effort does have a few more urgent and tightly-would rockers than on their past few releases, but it’s proof that Liars are able to satisfy their bizarrely creative instincts while still managing to wrangle popular and critical success.

All photos by Timothy Norris. More after the jump.

(Right: No Age) Their appearance at the El Rey this past Friday night marked the end of a month-long tour with LA’s own No Age, a perfect pairing as both bands traffic in rock that strays far from the formal conventions of the genre. Liars were augmented by the addition of a touring guitar player, Jarrett Silberman of Skull Skull and Young People, but this didn’t lessen the impact of their howling, morose, deconstructed rhythms. Singer Angus Andrew made for an imposing presence onstage, his lanky form ensconced in a barely-fitting purple suit. He rested on a stool in between performing spastic dance moves to the ever-present percussion. But even while reclining, Andrew is a wildly engaging frontman, sort of like an awkward, epileptic Mick Jagger. The band drew from the well of their varied catalogue, with the exception of their debut, from the furious wall-of-sound rock of songs like “Plaster Casts of Everything” to the fucked-up campfire sing-along “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack.”

Yes, this is atmospheric mood music, and there’s more than a bit of ominous foreboding pervading the thick clouds of art-experimentation that passes for song structure. But don’t mistake this for lack of vigor or ability to move the crowd. For all their phantasmagorical inclinations, Liars still pack a wallop of punk-rock potency, enhancing even the most freeform moments with a razor-sharp edge.

More photos of the No Age and Liars show here.

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