Live: Liquid Liquid at Santos Party House


Photo via Self-Titled

Liquid Liquid
Santos Party House
November 19

Last night’s Liquid Liquid show was scheduled to happen twice—”The band and DJs will ebb and flow together whenever LL damn well feels like it, apparently,” was the not-so-reassuring dual set-time explanation. But at the end of the day, bands tend to act like bands, not waterfalls or lava lamps. “We want to get to you so hard we’re just going to do one set and keep on playing,” said mustachioed LL frontman Sal Principato, who looks like he’s on the class of ’79 bowling team. “Is that OK?”

There is not a lot of preference to express when you’re seeing the still-standing resurrection of one of downtown’s most beloved post-punk remnants. “Cavern”—even if Melle Mel isn’t rapping on it—is not going to result in people wishing they were somewhere else. It’s weird to see that riff played by humans.

It is heartening that, 28 years on, Liquid Liquid remain a group of guys around whom you would not want your children. Counting out Principato (“it’s sort of like watching a snake just slither on the ground,” said NBS), there’s New Yorker illustrator cum bassist Richard McGuire, who removes a black cap to expose an incongruously bald head at the end of each song, marimba/tiny drum set man and cowbell-pioneer Dennis Young, and Scott Hartley, who plays drums as if Liquid Liquid were always some sort mammoth, walloping pigfuck band. MySpace confirms the recollection that this was not exactly the case.

The sight of hundreds of people in a cheerful mood trying to talk themselves into various packages of minute-and-a-half aggro-funk shrieking—tunes that far outnumbered the one time they played “Cavern”—was a kind of peaceful one: The mass suspension of disbelief, the readiness to like something that was not in fact particularly danceable or even necessarily pleasant. Visually, this looked like a tentative but optimistic head-nod, as if someone were presenting a particularly interesting paper on the importance of 99 Records, circa ’81.

Liquid Liquid, unphased, just did their thing and, in the sumptuously amplified and epileptically strobed confines of Santos Party House, paid respect to one man in the building who seemed to fully understand their brand of ongoing misanthropy.

“Thank you light-man.”