An early arrival at Off Broadway is an interesting way to experience a Water Liars / Angel Olsen show. We were greeted by the wonderful folks at St. Louis Public Radio to record the next Arch City Radio Hour with Water Liars frontman Justin Kinkel-Schuster. Which meant the few bodies in the room were fortunate enough to hear Water Liars play a few new songs before doors (see below video for one such song).
Angel Olsen opens the show and silences the room, bar noise and all. Her voice is incomparable. Her presence is spooky. She glares at the crowed with an expression that some may call emotionless, but her quivering voice spews emotion. I’d suggest watching her videos before I try and explain her songs. Because I’d probably do something silly and call her music “indie-folk, spaghetti-western love ballads” or something. She’s a real visceral experience, to say the least.
Water Liars start their set immediately with a heavy introduction that leads to “$100″ just as their first record Phantom Limb would start. The magical combination of a Harmony Hollywood and a Twin Reverb was pretty standard discussion throughout the evening. The plucked strings glisten like an AM dew coating the infamous morning after. The strums shimmer like the Snowy Mountain Range of Wyoming. They may be mistaken for merely decorative soundscape to a gentle wail and an honest lyric. But they’re imperative accompaniment for a loneliness that goes well beyond heartache. To be a child of the road is a lifestyle that has no remedy, but the familiarity of nostalgia can lend temporarily relief. “Linens” brings recollections of canoodling between sheets with your love and realizing personal happiness in-the-now. It’s a particular emotion that is captured flawlessly on their new record Wyoming. And in true Water Liars fashion, it’s followed by despairing conclusions, “that a mind is a place unto itself and in it makes a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.” A personal struggle between a man’s urge to love and his urge to leave seem to be a recurring theme for Water Liars’ songs. Even the name Water Liars was inspired from a short narrative of a man who contemplates his own reasons for being maddened by his wife having former relations with other men. Deep elements of being human are what Justin writes so damn beautifully.
Kinkel-Schuster’s voice is soft, angelic. Andrew Bryant’s backing vocals have heavier grit. It’s a satisfying juxtaposition often served for chorus, but Water Liars never leave their audience sobbing for long. Unexpected moments of Justin kicking his Big Muff fuzz into overdrive for the duo to engage in a garage-rock breakdown is something they experiment with more of recently. They’ll admit it’s a nice change of pace, especially after Kinkel-Schuster’s long stint of acoustic solo shows.
The majority of the first half of their set was material from their first release, Phantom Limb. The ladder half of the set included a cover of label-mates Spiritualized(‘s) “Too Late” and heavier versions of new songs.
Water Liars will return to St. Louis on April 3rd at Off Broadway.
Wyoming will be released on March 5th and can be pre-ordered at www.waterliarsmusic.com.
review by Nick Garcia of Arch City Radio
The interview and live performance of Water Liars will air on Arch City Radio Hour of St. Louis Public Radio KWMU-2 on March 4 at 9:00am.
The following photos were shot with Ilford 3200 black and white film
To view more photos, head over to my gallery section. Thanks for reading!