TVD Live Shots:
Laura Jane Grace and
the Devouring Mothers at Liquid Rooms, 8/27

It’s like the time that I was at SXSW years ago before it became a bloated corporate mess. You could see a band play a set to an unassuming crowd and you just had a feeling that this was something special—music with a fucking purpose that’s going to make a difference. It’s remarkably well written and story-driven with the perfect balance of wit, angst, and emotion.

This is how I felt during and after watching Laura Jane Grace with her latest project The Devouring Mothers in Scotland last week at the Liquid Club. Touring in support of my new favourite record of 2019 Bought to Rot, she had the audacity and sheer confidence to play the record in its entirety and then say goodbye. No encore, just a simple thank you. And that was enough.

This isn’t Laura Jane’s usual forte in terms of musical genres. She’s trading in her punk rock roots for a mix of Springsteen, The Old 97’s, and The Sex Pistols for Bought to Rot and it works remarkably well for a live club gig. “Amsterdam Hotel Room,” “The Hotel Song,” “The Apology Song,” and the climax of the album in the form of “Valeria Golino” and the masterpiece closer “Manic Depression.” It plays like a concept album even though it’s a bit schizophrenic at times. The storytelling, the crescendos, the highs and lows—all take the listener on a journey.

It’s one of the few shows I’ve ever seen in my life where each song gets progressively better. Oh, and how could I not mention the comedy relief of the night in the form of “I Hate Chicago.” Being from the midwest myself and having lived in the UK for the past three years, I get the point of self deprecating humor and can laugh along with it, but it quickly becomes apparent that this is in fact a break up song and it’s just taking the piss—with a great point about the pizza and traffic.

I went into this show completely open-minded after only hearing the single from the album. After doing a bit of research, it seems that the critics are having a go at this one, which is not surprising when a critically acclaimed, established artist pivots to a new project that takes on a new direction. I would urge anyone to see this live show before they make a call on Bought to Rot, as it’s simply impossible to capture its energy and raw emotion on record. To me, this is the perfect show—and I’m gutted that I can’t go see it again.

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