This week, we have three reviews from three different cities, yet all three bands reviewed have either recently been in Seattle (Liars) or will be making their way through shortly. In fact, you can see Foals this Saturday at Chop Suey for a FREE show with The Heavenly States and Sleepy Eyes of Death, and Nada Surf, who just played a mainly acoustic show at the Triple Door, will return to play the Showbox at the end of March.
- Foals, Bowery Ballroom, NYC 2/12/2008 by Sheryl Witlen
- Liars, The Metro, Chicago 2/5/08 by Gina Pantone
- Nada Surf, Triple Door, Seattle 1/30/08 by Chona Kasinger
photos by Nicole Steinberg
The disgusting weather conditions New Yorkers had to endure on the evening of Foals‘ first show in the city since October (for CMJ) made their performance even more of a celebration than it already was destined to be. Despite their acclaim abroad, stateside they still remain one the best kept secrets in music. Yes, Foals performed during CMJ madness as a live in-studio on the airwaves for KEXP listeners AND played a free Brooklynvegan showcase at Pianos AND a show at Williamsburg Music Hall… yet they have continued to fly just below radar.
That is about to change. As I write this, my ears are still ringing from the feverish chanting of the crowd packed into a steamy Bowery Ballroom, all clapping and a-flutter for an encore from these five boys from England. Why, you ask, did it take us New Yorkers so long to wake up to Foals, these young musicians who assault your senses and furtively sock you over the head with their brilliantly beyond loud sound and spirited performances? The only explanation I can find is sometimes we jaded New Yorkers need a healthy dose of musical education. For a band with an upcoming debut release and only a few visits to the States under their belts, they are ablaze with creativity and muscle, which comes together to from one of the loudest and tightest outfits in music to date.
photos by Rory O’Connor
It is difficult to make an office chair rock. Yes, it has swivel capabilities, padding for maximum support for extra gyrating and adjustable settings for any height — but last Tuesday at Chicago’s Metro, even the feral Liars frontman Angus Andrew could not pull off punk-on-wheels.
Rendered temporarily immobile from the strenuous task of picking up throw pillows in his home, Andrew has been resting his weakened back for this leg of the tour — considerably modifying the usual live Liars aesthetic. Drummer Julian Gross and resident kitchen sink instrumentalist Aaron Hemphill set the tone on the dark stage, banging simultaneous drums as the crowd prepared for an uncertain performance. Andrew hobbled onstage; a towering beanpole of a man clad in a suit and tie, and took his seat as if in an invisible cubicle.
However, the night’s slight uneasiness became evident with the single “Houseclouds.” Within the first verse their trademark solid rhythm was not in synch, causing near derailment, but was saved by Andrew’s soaring falsetto.
Once it was time for the experimental goodness of their older work, Liars snapped into place — breaking into metallic percussion, pounding like steel cables snapping on “We Fenced Other Gardens with the Bones of Our Own” from second album We Were Wrong, So We Drowned. Andrew rallied the audience like the Pied Piper’s of Weird into Liars favorite crowd participatory chant: “fly, fly the devil’s in your eye shoot shoot!”
As expected, tracks from Drum’s Not Dead remained responsible for set highlights — Andrew attempting to stand up and shimmy to a brilliant “It Fit When I was a Kid,” the percussion thundering like a slave ship in hell.
My verging near obsession with Barsuk all-stars and Brooklyn based Nada Surf reached its peak Wednesday night at the Triple door as I sat (unknowingly) in line for valet parking in front of the Triple Doors drenched sidewalk. Six floors and five minutes of excruciating frigid cold later, I walked into the sold out grounds of Seattle’s finest, The Triple Door. I spied at least half of local band The Long Winters amongst the other audience members that night.
The hat and visor donning Port O’ Brien fitted the bill exquisitely as their war, folkish sounds flooded the venue. The former tour mates of Rogue Wave (who in turn supported Nada Surf in years past) set up Nada Surf’s playing field with their low-fi, beatnik vibe.
The auxiliary string and piano accompaniments were brilliant additions to already perfectly crafted indie-pop goodness. Lucky is sure to prove a contender in the band’s 10+ year of span in the spotlight. How often do you get to see your favorite rock band leaning back on folding metal chairs, mellowing it out acoustic? The soft candor in Caw’s voice and lyrics have surely earned him a position in the ranks of Ben Gibbard, John Vanderslice, and John Darnielle.