PHOTOS: Liars / Unknown Mortal Orchestra / Joan of Arc @ The Metro, Chicago 7/19/12

Liars played to an ecstatic crowd at The Metro in Chicago on this past Thursday, July 19th. Starting with the first track on their recent release WIXIW, “The Exact Colour of Doubt,” they segued to the second track, ”Octagon,” flowing seamlessly between the lighter, more ethereal former and the darker, grumbling latter. This was a fitting start for a band which switches effortlessly between genres, their songs providing the soundtrack to a plethora of emotions, both healthy and unhealthy. Within the next few songs, they lashed out with a high paced, frenetic punk number, and the crowd burst into a mosh pit. The tension of the previous brooding tracks was unleashed as people thrashed around, screaming along.

Liars have an uncanny ability to lead their crowd through different modes of experiencing a show, from thoughtful reflection one moment with “Ill Valley Prodigies,” to the closest they come to a club banger with “Brats.” The intense concentration of the band was palpable as they churned out selects from their highly complex discography. After a full set and encore, they ended with “Plaster Casts of Everything,” the high energy, aggressive opener of their 2007 album Liars.

The night opened with a solo set from Chicago band Joan of Arc’s singer, Tim Kinsella. He played quiet, lyrical songs on a guitar, and made jokes to the crowd in between. Portland band Unknown Mortal Orchestra was up next, bringing reverb guitar and 70s-style vocals to the mix. The singer launched into a passionate guitar solo halfway through their set, winning the hearts of the audience. One song experimented with a different time signature, adding a depth and complexity to their sound which may have felt redundant otherwise. They served as a fitting compliment to Liars’ energy and experimentation.