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I had a thing for going to Pow Wows as a kid.  Seeing the Liars live lets me relive some of that cathartic other world.  Tribal beats, percussive rites, howls, incantations, stomps and spasmodic dancing, it’s all there to be lived inside their hyper set.

From the moment Liars hit the stage, their sound is built from the bottom up,  percussive details brewed by guitarist Aaron Hemphill there, some bass drums from drummer Julian Gross there, and singer Angus Andrew on keyboards and vocals, starting it all on an almost sweet note, with smiles.  Added live musicians on bass and guitar, borrowed from openers Fol Chen, bring in more of a jagged backbone as the song progresses.  By the second tune, the show has spun into a more feverish pitch; it’s now onto a pulsating, rhythmic dirge dotted with punk beats, knob twiddling, growls and cries.

Angus Andrew is a dervish on fire at tonight’s Bowery Ballroom show, all limbs akimbo, hair flying, stirring up visceral gestures, even moved to bare his midriff or play a cartoon version of air guitar.  The angsty mosh pit is in full sway by the time Liars’ current hit, “Scissor” starts, though Andrew jokes, “Crowd surfing’s not cool any more.”  At the next pause, he crouches and hides his face in a road case, saying coyly, “I’ve got a little box at the front of the stage and I can put my head in it.”  He does, but comes up for air in time for “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack”, along with words “I can always be found…”

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The generous, mixed-bag of songs from Sisterworld, Drum’s Not Dead, their self-titled, Liars and more isn’t enough for this crowd.  Applause and stomping brings the band back for an encore, this time as a trio, with two thumbs up from Andrew, who says, ” We thought we’d do somewhat of a threesome.  Thanks to all you nice people for being here!”  They close the show with the stunning “Broken Witch,” and its memorable chorus “I wanna be a horse,” ending (what could be more dramatic?) with the word “blood” repeated at a fierce and chilling pace.–Madeline Virbasius

 
  1. More dramatic would have been drinking blood or throwing it around, but words do the fabric justice here.

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