Shows in Brief: The Bottom Lounge, Chicago (July 16, 2010)

After a full day of festival-ing at Pitchfork we walked down the street a few block to the Bottom Lounge to catch a show by Liars (who had already played an awesome set earlier in the day). Opening was Chicago based dark-prog-metal band Follows and sound artist John Wiese.

When we walked in Follows was already on the stage. If you are familiar at all with the work of “Enter” era Russian Circles you can begin to understand the heaviness of Follows as the bassist is formerly of the Chicago post-metal band. They are almost devastatingly heavy, made all the more so by their extended compositions that seem to build continually louder and become more imposing as the minutes tick by. The songs feature quiet, understated vocals by their female lead singer/guitarist that exist over the top of a roaring crescendo of bass, guitars and drums. Many of the songs featured asymmetrical meter and odd phrase lengths, hence my “prog” designation. Check out their songs on myspace.

Chicago band Follows

John Wiese took a little longer to set up than I feel they were planning on. Alone on stage with just a laptop and some assorted electronics he performed, or possibly composed on the spot, music that was consisting mostly of manipulated sounds. I guess the best description I could come up with is “sound sculpture”. An interesting juxtaposition coming from a band like Follows and preceding a band like Liars. His set consisted of a non-stop ebb and flow of sounds for about 25 minutes. Take a listen here.

John Wiese

Liars took to the stage shortly thereafter in much the same way they did for their set at Pitchfork earlier in the day, with everyone in the band except for Angus coming out and beginning a song. This makes them seem like even more of a “rock band” than they really are. Their set consisted of the same material from earlier in the day plus a few other songs. They still tended towards the more guitar driven tunes but during their encore they did play as the classic trio. Though I do miss the days of Angus Andrew flailing around with a guitar around his neck and him seeming to struggle to break free, their band is really tight now. The noise is much more like a controlled burn rather than the out of control forest fire that used to be their live show.

They really seemed more energetic, oddly, at this point in the night. Their set was loud, wild and felt far too short. The addition of a bassist really makes a big difference in their overall sound, especially considering that he would spend most of songs strumming the bass as if it was a rhythm guitar. There was a low end rumble that was noisy, but still providing the foundation that one would expect from a bass guitar.  I would have been happy to stand there all night.

Liars Liars Liars