By the night's end, it seemed everything had been destroyed -- including the band. Drummer Ron Albertson eyed his band mates venomously, gingerly re-erecting his toppled bass drum and cymbal, which both were casualties of a monsoon of (literal) post-punk angst. Bassist Pat Noecker had careened into the crowd, parting it defiantly, absolutely -- though to say it parted like the Red Sea is to render the moment with a spirituality that it obviously pooh-poohed. And the witnesses it to it all just looked at each other -- the first timers in disbelief, the Liars veterans in dumbstruck awe -- and they wandered around the jam-packed club, some of them in circles, not sure if it was really safe to leave. In short, things were broken, people were scattered, and the whole room was short circuited -- filled with live wires, but somehow just not functioning. But could you really expect anything else? After all, Liars have a reputation to uphold as the purveyors of overwhelming, death-defying shows. They go postal, they fuck shit up, and they take no prisoners. And on this particular night, as the saucy headliners at infamous indie venue Brownie's, if I may resurrect an unfortunate early '90s catchphrase, they ruled. Everything the Liars do oozes with parody, mischief, and a keen commentary on the ridiculous theatrics of rock. They begin by emanating a sort of DIY savoir-faire as they took the stage, in a way that seemed too dandyish for a punk outfit. Lead singer Angus -- the main champion of this air - donned a foppish cap and pin-striped pants which made him look like an emaciated sailor. And the rest of the band were well behaved and role-playing enough. Sweet faced guitarist Aaron Hemphill would undoubtedly be "the heartthrob" if this were any other band, but in this context looked like the sugar-coated sibling along for the ride; to uphold the familial metaphor, Pat Noecker appeared nothing short of a fun loving uncle, armed with tricks and toys; and Ron Albertson has the cooler-than-thou swagger of an older brother (and, as already evidenced, a keen love for his skins.) So I guess that leaves Angus to be a gender-bending fusion of a frumpy mother and a blitzed out dad. (Warning: references to other hybrids forthcoming.) When he whipped off his shirt to reveal a sleeveless red sweater adorned with gold leaves (like a bastardized garage sale find), the band began to barrel through the screechy "Loose Nuts On the Veladrome" from their release They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top; suddenly, all pretenses of propriety bolted -- as did all senses of logic, time, order, and space. He screamed like an un-anaesthetized amputee as his band mates thrashed and throttled their instruments as if they were hated artifacts. There was no being eased into their brand of chaos -- you were pushed, full force, whether you liked it or not. And indeed, the kids who filled Brownie's to capacity that night certainly liked it. Since their album released in October, they've earned oodles of new, dedicated fans that support them vigorously at each and every outing -- and they've done their fair share in those few short months. For those who had jumped on the album's hype back in the fall, it seems to only take one visit before you want to join the throngs of converts. I can certainly attest. I was told by a friend before I had seen them that the Liars album -- wily, aggressive, and spontaneous as it is -- couldn't hold a candle to the sheer pandemonium of their live performances. That was a gross underestimate. Liars char the shit out of every track, raising the heat to 10,000 degrees and demonically determined to make you sweat. At a wiry 6'6", Angus is somehow the malnourished cross between Charles Manson and the Bionic Man. Charles Manson because he looks readied to kill: during numbers like "The Garden Was Crowded, and Outside" he towered, crazed, and seemingly searching for his next victim. Bionic because it seems no trick is beyond his imagination or strength. He threw him self, ass up, into the drum set; he crawled like a virgin on top of the amps, he thrusted, Michael Jackson style, at the screaming fans while unzipping his fly; he sang into another band members mic with such passion it seemed believable that, at any moment, they might quit playing all together and descend into a balls-out orgy. And he did this with all the stop-jerk animation of a remote control robot, as if he had hinges, not joints. His band mates followed suit, rivaling the Ex in terms of sheer locomotion on stage. During "Mr. You're on Fire, Mr". Also from They Threw Us they somehow managed to nail the aggressive, syncopated rhythms while also erupting into seizures and fits. They played a number of songs off They Threw Us as well as some other material, but the crowd favorite by far was "Grown Men Don't Fall in the River, Just Like That". As it opened with Angus chanting, the crowd quieted and readied themselves to join in on the crescendo-ing chants of "Can you hear us/ can you hear us/ can you hear us/ can you hear us"? before the song splits in two and reforms as a blitzkrieg of sound. It seemed that mean, manic little spirits, who drove their bodies to fling about uncontrollably, possessed them. The song finished dramatically, with Aaron Hemphill slamming his guitar down in an emblematic display of punk rock (which also resulted in Angus asking the crowd if someone had a pick so they could finish out the set.) After re-organizing (relatively speaking), Liars played finished out their 45-minute set with "We Live NE of Compton", another number which made the crowd wild. And by that point, the Liars were wild too, and all about an appetite for destruction. But I guess once you've broken the mold, you've gotta keep on breaking.
So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.
As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.
This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.
It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.
Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.
"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"
Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.
Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.
Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.
There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.
There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."