Sunday night at Neumos was a very diverse party. Three fantastic bands played three very, very different sets, creating a good time in three different respects. Seattle band Grave Babies opened, followed by Montreal-based rapper Cadence Weapon. Finally, New York experimental electronic act Liars closed out the night with an excellent collection of material from their new album WIXIW.
Grave Babies may (at this point in time) be the best rising goth/post-punk band in Seattle. Their big, distorted sound is quintessentially representative of early Jesus & Mary Chain and Keith’s primal howl has all of the pain and emotional tug of early Ian MacCulloch. The band threw down cuts from their independent releases and their material on Hardly Art, including the excellent “Bloodstains” and “Pleasures”. Grave Babies are, without a doubt, one of the bands to watch for the upcoming year. Their sound and their growing live presence are only getting stronger.
As Cadence Weapon came on stage, the energy drastically shifted. Over the last few albums, Rollie Pemberton has been building a hip-hop presence entirely unto himself, sampling the likes of Grimes and others to create a unique experience that is undeniably fun. He was all over the stage, jumping into the crowd and setting the microphone down occasionally just to dance and hype everyone up. Cadence Weapon put two hours worth of energy into a 45 minute set, and by the end of it, he had arrested everyone’s attention and response to his music - the sign of a true rising emcee. After his set, a line piled up at the merchandise booth with people just wanting to talk with Pemberton. Given his positive outlook and energizing presence, it’s easy to understand why.
As Liars came onstage, cheers erupted as they started in on “The Exact Colour Of Doubt”, opener of their new album WIXIW. From there, the energy built with “Octagon” and Drums Not Dead classic “Let’s Not Wrestle Mr. Heart Attack” in surprising and disorienting directions. For “Heart Attack”, Angus screams as Aaron and Julian are locked in perfect sync with each other, pounding out tribal drums. It’s not surprising that Liars are all over the place. After all, their new album alone ranges from the indecipherable creep out of “Ill Valley Prodigies” to the european techno vibe of “Brats” to the completely listener friendly turnaround of “No. 1 Against The Rush”. So of course, Liars explored every corner of their sound over the hour long set. But somehow, they balanced their set between the exploratory and familiar, and fans were not disappointed. If nothing else, the band is completely arresting onstage. Angus’s hair hangs out in front of his face like a horror movie ghost as he howls out his melodies of discord. Aaron is dead serious, balancing between all of his different instruments, and Julian is completely expressionless as he pulls out all the stops of their asymmetrical drum patterns. Liars ended the evening in a blur of sound, leaving all in awe and a little bit unsettled.