The Water Liars/Evan Murdock; March 4, 2012; The High Noon
I had just added, somewhat crazily, two shows to the weekend the Water Liars were supposed to play the basement when their booking agent contacted me wondering what I thought about moving the show to the High Noon since the date had just opened up. Reluctantly, I agreed it was probably a good idea. Not because I couldn’t handle three shows in four days, but because I realized there was a chance of a better turnout there. Honestly, it would break my heart if no one showed up to see the Water Liars on a Sunday in the basement. That’s because Water Liars’ frontman Justin Kinkel-Schuster used to be in Theodore, and they had been the victim of two less than great shows, both on Sunday nights. No fault of theirs of course, they were absolutely a-maz-ing every single time they played (including a third time opening for Simon Joyner, and there were actually, thankfully, some people there for that), but circumstances conspired to make for some of my lesser successes.
I was sad to hear that Theodore was no more, not only was it a great band made up of extremely talented musicians, but they are also some of my favorite people. That disappointment lessened once I heard the Water Liars’ debut record Phantom Limb. Theodore’s last release, Blood Signs, was great, but they were definitely getting noisier and more experimental. I still liked it, but it just wasn’t the same band I fell in love with. In the Water Liars, Kinkel-Schuster has paired with longtime friend and frequent tourmate Andrew Bryant. Together they have made a record with a rawer sound than most of Theodore’s material, but just as tuneful. And it works.
Live they play the record straight through (or at least it seems that way), which makes for a pretty short, if very intense set. Album standouts “Dog Bitten,” “$100,” and especially “What Fresh Hell Is This?” hold up well on stage, due to Kinkel-Schuster’s intense vocals and guitar and Bryant’s effective drumming. There’s a lot of heartbreak and just enough hope in his voice to carry these songs. With only one record to their name they were done much too quickly. I almost hoped for a few Theodore songs to round out the set, but I guess that would miss the point of starting a new band. I miss Theodore, but I look forward to whatever the Water Liars come up with next. I’m sure it will be brilliant.
The Water Liars