The Brooklyn based black metal band Liturgy played a gig on Tuesday the 5th of July 2011 at DC9 and even though I was running a fever I still headed up there to catch them play. I’m glad I did as it was an entertaining show, even if I was feeling as sick as a Cerberus. I was running a bit late getting there, and apparently a third “band” had been added to the lineup but I didn’t see them play. I heard it was a few guys with laptops and synthesizers or something and that sounded awful so I didn’t even want to go upstairs to find out more. It’s bad enough DJ nights are taking away more and more booking spots at venues, apparently now they’re creeping into the opener slots as well. Anyways, the next band was called Dope Body, from Baltimore. To put it bluntly, they were awful. They weren’t particularly heavy, certainly more rock band than metal. Their songs were highly repetitive which wouldn’t be awful if they were playing something more interesting than chopsticks. The vocalist had a lot of stage presence and was moving all around the stage but when the band announced they still had a few more songs left to play I decided to go downstairs and sit for a while. I was really feeling sick by that point and this band just wasn’t doing it for me at all.
After a short while I moved upstairs again to see the band I came here for, Liturgy. Liturgy is a fairly controversial band in the metal world. The thing that seems to make them the most controversial is that they don’t adhere to what metal heads expect of a black metal band, and they do that on purpose. They don’t wear corpse paint or spikes or any of the other stereotypical black metal imagery. It should be noted that not all “true” black metal bands like that stuff any more either, many saying it’s been over done. I can’t remember the last time I saw any of the old “inner circle” black metal bands wear corpse paint on stage, other than Immortal that is. Yet Liturgy is often labeled as hipsters though I didn’t see any skinny jeans or ironic tshirts. Maybe I’m not up to date on what constitutes being a hipster these days. (Please don’t bother explaining in the comments, I don’t care). Regardless of appearance, Liturgy is black metal with a lot of atmosphere and progression. They’re comparable to bands like Wolves In The Throne Room, Krallice and Weakling in that way, though they have their own distinct sound. They’ve got a bit of indie rock aesthetic in there too, though not in that Alcest shoegazey way. Their older material was definitely more rooted in black metal but now they’re starting to drift away into something different, something that is their own. Honestly, their music simply isn’t as dark as most black metal bands, but that’s not to say it isn’t bleak. The music often goes from dark and brooding and elevates itself to something lighter, and sometimes back again. The band’s main man, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, has angered many in his interviews with his views on metal and it’s community. But live, the guy seemed extremely soft spoken. When he was playing his music and screaming into the microphone during the songs it seemed like he was letting it all out. When he did speak between songs he spoke so softly, sort of mumbling, that I could hear people in the audience asking what he had just said. Not what I was expecting at all from the guy who’s words have pissed off so many in the underground metal world. They played several songs from their new album (see the concert’s setlist here) and they fit in well with the older material that was in there as well. The vocals were highly reverbed and their songs went through slow progressions, sometimes almost seeming to stall if it wasn’t for the band’s drummer keeping everything moving so well. He kept the show moving long and he really stood out to me live. My fever broke midway through their set and I started sweating all over the place but I didn’t mind, the songs kept me captivated for their entire set. By the time they finished I was sweating profusely but I was feeling better, surely it was Liturgy’s take on black metal that helped me transcend my illness, if even just temporarily (I was back to being sick the next day).
The audience wasn’t your typical black metal crowd, but that’s totally fine by me. It’s nice to see people outside the typical metal ‘clique’ going to see metal bands. I did recognize a few faces and a few of you came up to say hi and that you like reading my site, that’s always awesome and I often don’t know what to say and start rambling incoherently. There was a good sized crowd for a Tuesday, especially considering it was the night after a major holiday and at a venue that rarely gets metal bands. I really enjoyed watching Liturgy play that night and I’m glad I got to see them start off their tour that night. If you’re someone who thinks black metal must be kvlt and fit into some rigid standard to be “true” then you’re not going to like these guys. If you think black metal only means the ultimate in blasphemous and unholy music, again, you’re not going to enjoy Liturgy. If, however, you’re interested in seeing a band experiment with what black metal is and can be, I highly recommend checking them out. It was an interesting ride and I can’t wait to see them again, hopefully I’ll be feeling better for their next area appearance.
I gave away a pair of tickets to this concert and now I’m giving away a pair of tickets to see Torche at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Saturday the 16th of July, be sure to enter here. Now check out the videos below that I shot at this concert. The lighting is really dark but the audio should be OK if you want to hear how they sounded.