The last time the Water Liars played Chicago the Hideout was sold out. I wanted to believe that it was because Justin Kinkel-Schuster was finally getting the respect he deserved. But judging by tonight’s respectable but smaller crowd at the Burlington in Logan Square it was probably headliner Angel Olsen, who is playing the much bigger Lincoln Hall the next time she’s in town, who sold the place out. Pity, folks don’t know what they’re missing. I’ve already declared their new release Wyoming the record of the year, and that’s in a calendar which will also see new material from Chris Mills and Ha Ha Tonka. Their first record was good, but this one is flat out amazing, intensely emotional yet still infectious. Oddly, it sounds more like Kinkel-Schuster’s former band Theodore than the final Theodore record did.
The previous times I had seen the Liars it was as a duo, which also includes drummer Andrew Bryant. And they made a remarkable amount of beautiful noise together. This time however they were joined by a bass player who was of a minimalist school and seemed superfluous. The Wyoming songs sounded great live, and Kinkel-Schuster puts his heart and soul into every word. “Cut a Line” and “Bird of Song” were stand-out tracks. They ended their set with a Jason Molina song. I was never a fan of Molina, who passed away recently, but this song made me think he was worth another look. If I have a complaint it’s that they didn’t play long enough, it’s a long running one which goes back to Theodore days. In a reversal of the usual show formula, every band played for less time than the one before them, and despite the fact that the Water Liars were listed as headliners they played second.
The last band was Gunshy, which turned out to be just one dude. He was trying out new songs slated for an upcoming release. His gravelly voice and story songs sounded like a combination of Two Cow Garage’s Shane Sweeney and Steve “Romeo’s Tune” Forbert. I had seen a band called the Gunshy with Ha Ha Tonka in DeKalb, but I never managed to figure out if this was the same one. Opener Paul Cary had a catchy reverb laden sound that had me nodding my head in spite of myself. As a venue the Burlington was definitely OK, the drinks were cheap and it is only four blocks from my friend’s apartment. I hope I have a reason to go there again soon.
The Water Liars