Beards, Barberos and Big Apple born dance punk, Getintothis‘ Jamie Bowman takes in the pummelling, penultimate night of Liverpool Music Week.
With trick or treaters roaming the streets, Liverpool Music Week happily dishes out a bucketful of goodies with a tasty line-up featuring four excellent acts who add to the excitement coursing through the Kazimier on this unseasonably warm final night of October.
First up is the bedroom electronica of Afternaut aka Liverpool computer games boffin Adam Rowley. While visually it’s hard to get excited by a bearded man manipulating a laptop, the atmospheric waves of synths coupled with some pleasing squelching sounds, make Afternaut an electrical delight worthy of Rowley’s ambition to set the futurist ideas of communications expert Nicola Tesla to music.
If tonight’s bill was a battle of the facial hair, James Binary would win by more than a whisker. Like Afternaut, we’re watching another technician but unlike the previous act we have the added bonus of Sam Wiehl’s typically wonderful visuals. There are other differences too: where Afternaut are all lush soundscapes evoking travel and a sense of forward thinking optimism, there’s something palpably dark and foreboding about the Forest Sword bassist’s dissonant ambience. When coupled with Wiehl’s Poltergeist-esque TV screens of statics, Binary’s short set is a suitably chilling cameo for this all Hallows eve.
Talking of fear, we’ve suffered nightmares ever since we were first subjected to local psychos Barberos’ lycra-clad noise rock a few years ago. But, whisper it, we do believe that Barberos have mellowed a little since then. Yes, they’re still mercilessly abrasive but these days there’s an injection of melody into their usual melange of abstract time signatures and mighty percussion. Sitting in formation on the Kazimier stage’s top tier, the overall impression is hugely impressive as Barberos’ double-drum formation pummels both the crowd and the organ playing ‘UJ’ with a tightness befitting those outfits. A true treasure of the Liverpool music scene, Barberos are a unique and terrifyingly brilliant proposition.
Few bands have confounded and frustrated more over the last decade than New York’s Liars. Emerging from the Big Apple, when every man and his sneaker wearing dog was getting signed in the wake of the Strokes’ breakthrough, their dance punk revival soon found favour for a music press frothing at the mouth for the likes of DFA and Radio 4.
Thankfully there was always something far deeper to frontman Angus Andrews’s song writing which went beyond a desire to sound like Gang of Four. By 2006, they were releasing the distorted noise rock of Drum’s Not Dead but with 2012’s WIXIW they had become almost wholly electronic, making the sort of dance music people who like dance music would never listen to.
Quite what kind of band Liars actually are then has never really been clear but with this year’s Mess album, they seem to have tidied things up a bit, empathised by their new tighter than tight status as a three piece. Thankfully there’s still plenty of the usual abrasive noise epitomised by the first half of tonight’s set which takes WIXIW’s electro blueprint and adds all kind of clanking craziness. Mask Maker has the snorkel parka clad Andrews imploring the crowd to “Smell my socks / Eat my face off” while Vox Tuned D.E.D splutters and twists into a metal wig out.
Mess On A Mission builds from a skittering bleep-fest into a mental explosion of sloganeering dance-punk with our Angus screaming “Fact is fact and fiction’s fiction” as he almost singlehandedly drags the front row into a marching stomp. It’s a brilliant end to a thrilling show.
Six years ago, Liars were the first ever band to headline the Kazimier. Now over half a decade later it’s hard to imagine the musical landscape without either of them.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Jack Thompson