I didn't go to a single show for the first two years of my daughter's life. I finally broke that spell in April by going to see Belle and Sebastian. Last night I went to my first heavy music show in years when I went to see Peacers, Liturgy, and Lightning Bolt at the Chapel in San Francisco.
I think the Peacers is fronted by the guy from Bay Area garage band Bare Wires. Either way, they were a sloppy garage/noise band whose songs seemed more like sketches or ideas than fully fleshed out songs. They weren't terrible but I wasn't a fan. They did make Liturgy seem all that more amazing, because Liturgy were the exact opposite. There was no scrappiness or sloppiness to them at all.
I really like their latest album The Ark Work, but it is a challenging record. It is synth-heavy, and Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's new hip-hop influenced moaned singing style doesn't always work. I wasn't sure how it would translate live, but it totally worked. They became more guitar-oriented, and since the synths were coming through Hunt-Hendrix's guitar, there was less cacophony than on the album. This allowed the epicness of the songs to shine. They operate as a whole, building to "Reign Array."
There was also a trance-like effect of their music. I went to the show with my brother-in-law, and both of us have young children and are up early. He mentioned that Liturgy was sort of putting him to sleep, even though they were really loud and heavy. Which isn't a sterling compliment, but it points to the drone-like elements of their music. It is similar to techno music in its abstraction, the way it builds, and the non-reliance on traditional song structure or singing to drive the songs.
Drummer Greg Fox is the key to the band. Hunt-Hendrix may write the songs and lyrics and own the concept of the band, but Fox is what keeps it going. He is by far the best drummer I have seen play. He plays fast, precise, and complicated patterns, almost all of which are some variation of a sixteenth note. The rest of the band were all strumming as fast as their wrists would allow, and it was up to Fox to create the shape of the songs. He was incredible, and a blast to watch and listen to.
The band was a little subdued, which may owe to the fact that they weren't headlining. They basically stood there, only occasionally banging their head. I think part of it was that there is so much technical precision required in their songs that they were busy trying not to fuck their parts up.
They closed with "Generations," off of their last album. The crowd finally snapped out of their stupor, and a little most pit started, although the kind of most pit that 30-something hipsters start. No one was in danger of breaking a limb or even their glasses.
Hearing Liturgy live really made The Ark Work make sense to me, and brought it to life. I don't totally understand Hunt-Hendrix's philosophy, and his moaning singing sometimes sounds weak and shitty, but I really admire what he is able to do and the force and vision behind their music.
We left before Lightning Bolt because I had a train home to catch, and the idea of getting an extra hour of sleep was more enticing than seeing a band I had never listened to. True to form my kid woke up cranky and sad and I was very glad I wasn't hung over.
This are some clips of different live shows that gives some idea of what they are like:
- ► 2016 (21)
- ▼ May (7)
- ► 2014 (50)
- ► 2013 (37)
- ► 2012 (58)
- ► 2011 (78)
- ► 2010 (101)
- ► 2009 (137)
- ► 2008 (144)
- ► 2007 (90)