[Photo: D. Riley] "God, I wish someone had told me parking in Inman Square is practically nonexistent," I shouted over the new My Bloody Valentine album as I rounded Cambridge St. for what felt like the tenth time. After a few misguided parallel attempts and a Costanza moment with my buddy, I struck vehicle stowage gold and booked it over to The Lilypad. Not an auspicious start, I thought, but I was seeing Lilys: this was going to be a good night, parking be damned.
Openers The Prefab Messiahs, in all their psych-pop glory, were just finishing up sound check as we walked in. They soon took the stage (read: designated end of the room) and delivered a tight, generously lengthy opening set. The act was a working psych-rock concern in the early '80s and are recently reunited. The formerly Worcester-based Prefab Messiahs remarked from the stage that they'd been busy recording new music with some current Lilys members helming the sessions in Boston. Despite having little knowledge of their music, I was drawn to their goofy charm. They were clearly a group of dudes who didn't take themselves seriously then or now, what with their self-referencing songs about psychedelic cars and orange rooms. Oh, and props to their outfits too, especially the lead guitarist's McDonald's manager-worthy polo shirt.
After a barely audible introduction -- somewhat unusual given chief Lily Kurt Heasley's characteristic fantastical logorrhea -- the current iteration of Lilys launched into its towering shoegaze classic "Claire Hates Me," and it killed. Thereafter was a brief yet satisfying (and quite loud) set that showcased the band's dizzying range. Crunchy noise rock cuts abutted '60s-inspired psych nuggets and trance-y motorik grooves. What initially struck me about their set though was the band's set-up. While shoegaze guitarists are typically surrounded by a vast array of guitar pedals, here was Heasley nailing the dense tones of his storied discography armed with nothing more than a fuzz pedal. Instead Lilys erected their wall of sound with keyboards and dueling guitars cooking up plenty of noise, coating the tiny confines of The Lilypad with layer upon layer of beautiful distortion. It was a fitting end to close the show with the undeniable and heavy "February Fourteenth" -- just as the band had done Tuesday night for its appearance at the Chickfactor 21 festival -- not only because it tested the structural integrity of the venue, but also because it reminded the assembled fans of the the Lilys' singular, circuitous sonic progression these past 22 years. "Have a beautiful evening," Heasley mumbled before disappearing behind the stage. After a traditional post-show burrito, I could safely say I did. -- Dillon Riley
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Selected Prior Lilys coverage:
That Was The Show That Was: Lilys | Lilypad | 25 May
A N D I F O R G O T A L O N G T I M E A G O H O W Y O U F E E L
20: Lilys | In The Presence Of Nothing
Today's Hotness: Lilys
Footage: Lilys' "February 14th" Live at Chickfactor | Sept. 22
YouTube Rodeo: Lilys' Amazing "YCJCYAQFTD," "A Nanny In Manhattan," "Baby's A Dealer"
YouTube Rodeo: Lilys' "Ginger" Live And Awesome
Coming To Your Local Bandstand: Lilys' California Mini Tour