Music

From the Liars' Injured Frontman, No False Moves

Liars (sans the horse) evoked influences such as Happy Mondays and the Jesus and Mary Chain during its show Tuesday at the 9:30 club.
Liars (sans the horse) evoked influences such as Happy Mondays and the Jesus and Mary Chain during its show Tuesday at the 9:30 club. (By Steve Gullick)
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Liars shows are notable for the dance moves showcased by Angus Andrew, the impossibly tall and lanky lead singer of the aggressive, experimental rock quartet. On Tuesday at the 9:30 club, he didn't disappoint.

There was the Bar Stool Twist; the I Just Washed My Hands and There Are No Paper Towels in This Restroom; the Ouch! My Back!; and his old reliable, the Weird Australian Dude With Limited Control of His Central Nervous System.

A few of those were born out of necessity. A recent back injury has confined Andrew to a chair for the band's current tour, although he did make it to his feet on a few occasions Tuesday night. The band's performance didn't suffer for his lack of mobility: Liars showed an impressive mastery over many rock-and-roll subgenres, which wasn't too surprising considering the band's recorded output has veered from dance-punk to Wiccan folk to muscular garage rock.

A laid-back groove helped "Houseclouds" saunter along like a lost Happy Mondays track, while the excessive fuzz and feedback of "Freak Out" (sung by multi-instrumentalist Aaron Hemphill) made it a dead ringer for the Jesus and Mary Chain. The band also had plenty of driving hard-rock moments and worked up an imposing industrial squall on "We Fenced Other Gardens With the Bones of Our Own." When Andrew let loose with his commanding howl -- which was roughly on every other song -- you could see plenty of his countryman Nick Cave, whose early '80s outfit, the Birthday Party, was the main reference point for the band's more chaotic material.

Openers No Age lacked the variety provided by the headliners, but the Los Angeles guitar-and-drums duo similarly succeeded in making an enjoyable racket. There wasn't much more to the songs than some effects-laden guitar noise and primitive bashing away -- but enough hooks, whether vocal or on guitar, forced their way to the forefront to give songs like "Neck Escaper" and "Boy Void" identities of their own.

-- David Malitz


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