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Liars – Mask Maker

Picture a gigantic warehouse; above you the ceiling reaches excessive heights, below you the ground is still soaked from the hundreds of ice-filled polystyrene crates that were there just hours before. Imagine a barely tolerable fishy odor and a humid cold that chills your bones. In the middle of it all, place an immense silhouette in a white coat, gesticulating, masked, in this empty and menacing space. Then throw in a drone, a weird voice and a harrowing rhythm. And there you go: Liars, alone in the Rungis fish market.

We couldn’t have dreamed of a better location for our latest Empty Space: the band’s sound seemed to bounce off every nook of the depot; Angus’s freaky voice slid infinitely along the poles in this room of absurd dimensions, and the music was everywhere, carried by a surreal metallic reverb.

There was something fascinating in the way Liars played, repeating over and over the same lurching movements. Something disturbing in the repetitive convulsion of “Mask Maker”, its mad loops of cold beats that went so well with the polar temperature of the place. The feeling of being seized, practically swallowed whole by the sound, hypnotized by the tribal dance to which Angus gave himself. Transforming a plain, empty hangar into a temple of mystical ceremony.

As terrifying as it may seem, Angus’s mask – recognized easily among a thousand others for those who’ve already seen Liars on the stage – has something strangely reassuring about it: the dozens of colorful wool strings that make it are the same that your grandma used to knit that kind of ugly sweater you only wear in the privacy of your own home on long winter nights. A paradox in the image of the group, who’s capable of making some of the most frightening music there is, while being the kindest, the most patient, and the most resistant to cold of all the bands we’ve met – do we need to tell you that Angus wasn’t even wearing a shirt under his coat?

When “Mask Maker” rang out one final time in the Pavillon des Marées, the arresting stench of fish was but a vague memory – one that our nostrils eventually got used to. The dance of the Styrofoam boxes began again, the last pieces of wool were swept from the floor. Rungis never sleeps. Liars neither, it seems.

Translation by Lauren McCracken