LIILY SHOW: TV or Not TV
Updated: Nov 15, 2021
So Many Flowers, I Pick “Liily”
On a Divvy with my friend blasting down a one way street lateral to Belmont, water fills the weathered cracks of these Chicago roads as bike tires skid on the wobbles; nearing mach speed. The average electric divvy can reach 20mph which I only learned through some light research for this article, though while riding they feel substantially faster. Maybe my Divvys are simply built different. We were riding west to the venue/bar called Beat Kitchen in Chicago, IL on Belmont--close to the Ravenswood neighborhood. Any other relevant context was my unbridled excitement to see my friend play, my stomach churning from the canned mixed drink that I pounded while unlocking my Divvy, and that I forgot my journal, where I take notes on what I observe.
Standing in the permanent humidity of the midwest, smoking a bip up by the corner of the venue when Dylan, the lead singer of Liily, pulls up holding a stick of Old Spice and some CVS lemon-honey lozenges as he greets us with a warm smile and a hug. He says he doesn't commonly deploy lozenges in the pre show warm up before he scurries off to attend the show he is about to play. Making it about 5-feet closer to the door before lighting a cigarette, two more familiar faces peek their heads out of the door. Charlie, the bass player/really cool cat, came out asSam the guitarist emerged, back lit by the orange glow of a bar whose occupants were aged between 19-23 and 35-50. Seeing Charlie's hair backlit gave me the surreal feeling of worlds combining: the past year of extended walks and talks finally catching up to the present of reconnecting thousands of miles from our stomping grounds. Stomachs are rumbling, excitement is building, and energies begin to reconnect as conversations begin and the laughs start rolling out. Losing myself in the spatial reality that I occupy, taking me back to past shows that are forever lasered into my mind. I remember when he was touring the I Can Fool Anybody in This Town EP, at Schubas Tavern in Chicago and The Echo in LA. Before I get too deep, let me cut my sappy bullshit about friends and memories and get to what we are all here for, the show.
Liily, is currently touring on their new “TV or Not TV” album tour--a play on words that took me more time than I’m willing to admit to recognize As they get on the stage Dylan calls for the lights as different colored gels cover the ever dimming lights engulfing the stage until the spotlight illuminates Dylan's face. Starting with a couple of songs from the new project, the explosive “Mr. Speaker Gets the Word'' catalyzes the start-stop momentum for the rest of the show that builds in anticipation for a crowd that has had both too much and not enough Bud Light. There was a healthy mix of younger adults recklessly squeezing their Bud Lights, the late teenagers that I probably once was leaned against the side wall, anxiously hiding the giant black X’s they put on your hands if you're under 21, or you’re too nervous to use the ID your sisters friend gave you. There was one guy I really enjoyed, his dark stone, ‘I would be hiking if Chicago was not a flat wasteland’ outfit, accountants glasses, and a willingness to self induce whiplash from improper head banging position. The general atmosphere surrounding this place was thus, maybe not quite as cool. However, I do think it was a very appropriate venue, it held an energy I don’t know if I will ever feel quite comfortable in.
The performance brought me back home though, there is something powerful about seeing the best live performance of a song you've seen live multiple times, the single from their previous EP, titled “Toro” fit this bill. With explosive energy, beat timed thrashes and body movements painted by the red gel stage lights as the instrumentalists come alive. Dylan's spotlight lightens his Barbados beach blue eyes as he looks out into the crowd, inviting patrons to drown deep in them. Each member occupies their own style and space of performance, Charlie concentrated stomping in correlation with aggressively carrying bass lines that ring out from his darker corner of the stage. Maxx, who I had not seen outside, was on stage almost breaking through his undershirt with shattering slams onto the drums. Watching him play is really its own show, sitting slightly behind Dylan’s figure, the crashes, pauses, and control over these slight movements was just like a ballet. Honestly, he is a cool guy, there is this pseudo mystery to him, but maybe that's just drummers. Sam, in his well timed gaps of movement in which all you can see is his fingers fly up and down throwing triangles across the neck and for one song, two necks of a double wide guitar.
Not to spill here but it takes a lot for me to take a picture at a show--to remove myself from the live experience to capture a fragment of that memory virtually. Now I do enjoy seeing pictures and videos from shows, but I can’t be in the position to be taking those pictures. I’m becoming less sour on the situation, but not fully embracing its utility. Until there is something, you know... worth photographing. As one guitar went down, and the lights pan over to Sam grabbing the double wide, double neck guitar I had to get a picture. Something is mystifying about the double wide, double neck guitar, ever since my first encounter at the Guitar Center in LA, it has stood tall as an instrument I could not fathom playing. I couldn’t comprehend the construction of it, watching it get taken off of the rack and used in a setting that called… no, begged for such a unique tool was impressive.
The show began to come to a close, the crowd demanded more, but like all great performances, the crowd was left wanting more. As the lights are raised I make my way outside, light up a cigarette and walk over to the boys, packing up their instruments and chopping it up about the show.