Nestled amongst copious cables, pedals, cassette players, and a mixing board, Liz Harris brought the magic of Grouper to life for Northside.
Grouper puts out lush, ambient music that is as much of a daze as it is melodic compositions. The ethereal vibes were strong at National Sawdust as warped visuals played behind Harris and helped to heighten the mood of her unique and rather rare performance. Her vocals were submerged deep within the heavy reverb and onstage, she manipulated each knob of her board with the utmost care and precision. At times, the beauty of it all became overpowering and glorious all at once. Projected behind her, webs filled with dew, screens flashed, and double exposures of the sun provided striking visual displays as the powerful droning vibes carried on and washed over the crowd. Sitting cross legged with her tools of her trade before her, Liz conjured up sounds from deep within and exalted the utmost pleasurable musical display full of distorted joy and shining charisma. The intimate and intriguing venue was a fantastic setting for the show and the control set forth by Harris was splendid. She carefully shuffled out cassette tapes while dramatic chords rang out over distilled vocals that resonated strongly within the mix. For music that can seem so personal and isolating on record, seeing it all come to life and become so grandiose was a rather impressive and at times transformative. Each track morphed into another and pulsed along, breathing with the crowd, at times swelling into a massive swarm before boiling back down to smaller components. Watching all of it happen with such calmness and serenity complimented the noisy compositions and brought life back into each moment and musical shift. Just as sudden as it seemed to begin, the end culminated in a heavy burst of fuzz before Harris retreated back into darkness and exited the stage, never speaking to the crowd or disrupting the flow of the music. It was in a sense a living and breathing art piece that needed no explanation or narrative, but rather spoke for itself with complexity and grace and formed a sublime event.