Liars and Fol Chen at Slim's in San Francisco
Liars and Fol Chen sound different, but in a way they're doing the same thing. Both bands are devoted experimentalists with a penchant for theatrics and myth, notoriously difficult to define in terms of genre. While Fol Chen has a more polished and pop-tinged sound and Liars defer to the abrasive and disturbing, the two bands make a natural counterpoint. They've been touring together in support of Liars' new record Sisterworld and Fol Chen's upcoming Part II: The New December, and last Wednesday in San Francisco they gave a solid performance at Slim's.
Fol Chen went first, wearing proletarian sci-fi jumpsuits and swapping instruments freely, each member seeming equally adept at everything. Most impressive were their vocals - 3 of the 4 members are gifted singers (Samuel Bing has a particularly startling voice, with a high-register glam-ish sound like a conservatory-polished Destroyer), and their stylistic diversity affords the band a musical range stretching from melodic, funk-laced indie pop to grimy, staccato electronic. They're definitely a band to watch, and you'll be able to get their new album this summer on Asthmatic Kitty Records.
Liars brought proper musicianship too, plus a raw intensity that not so long ago was the exclusive domain of sloppy garage punks, gutter fetish noise ensembles, and Brazilian people. Joined onstage by two members of Fol Chen for everything but the encore, Liars ebbed and flowed between noise, tribal drums, fuzzed-out synths and brutalist, echo-heavy art-punk. Front man Angus Andrew slunk and ranged and pointed throughout, waggling loose hands and shouting about violence. Now and then he'd pause to twist a knob or do a spooky dance, maybe flail around in the green light or grin at the crowd like a schizoid devil. And yet somehow it didn't seem forced, and you got the sense that this is how Andrew behaves at practice, too, that he's the sort of dude who just feels shit, a conduit for some bigger, meaner, mysterious force.
Anyway, heads were nodded, hips were swayed, and temples and ribcages bruised by flying elbows (towards the front, at least). Liars closed the evening with the devastating “Broken Witch” from 2004's They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, Andrew shouting the word “blood” a couple hundred times until the noise shook out and guitarist Aaron Hemphill flashed a mellow peace sign and bid the crowd good night.
- Greg Korn