Live Report - Lilitu - March 18, 2005 - Austin, Texas
Metal Reviews

Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Ben

I had been looking forward to catching Lilitu at Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) for almost two months now. Their brand of superbly executed Heavy Metal struck a chord with me since the very first listen and I was also anxious to see my friends again. As you know, Jonah Weingarten joined the band in November and the group’s bass player for the show (and maybe for the future as well) was one Noah Martin, the uber excited long haired music theorist that can outplay and outwrite many established metal musicians on the scene. This was to be the band’s first Texas show and also their most high profile one to date. The SXSW is a huge four day music festival where over 1300 bands play in various clubs throughout Austin and because of the sheer number of musicians and talent that is on display, hundreds of record labels, journalists, and industry reps travel down here to see what new and upcoming artists have to offer. I myself arrived in Austin around eleven PM and attempted in vain to secure a hotel room for the better part of an hour. I resigned myself to the sanctuary of my truck to wait for Lilitu to roll up as I blasted The Delores Lesion and Memorial in hot anticipation of knowing that in less than twenty four hours I would be hearing these songs live and in the flesh. Around midnight I look over and see a white van pull up to the entrance of the Super 8 and I notice the bald head of Jonah and the haggard looking band (they drove sixteen hours straight from Atlanta to make it here) get out so I make my way over and introduce myself to everyone. Despite the fact that everyone was extremely tired and wanted to do nothing else but load their gear into their rooms and feel the warm comfort of a soft pillow Jason, Derek, and Corey still took the time to shake my hand and thank me for coming out to see them. Seeing as I had no room I chatted with Noah and Jonah for several minutes then told them to knock on my truck window in the morning when they woke up as I planned to treat them to breakfast. As I was sitting in my single cab multi colored beast (multi colored if you consider rust, primer, and flaking gray colors) my phone rang and Jonah’s first words were “You’re not sleeping in that fucking truck man. I’m coming out there to get you.” Simply put, I was floored by this display of hospitality and compassion on behalf of the band. While Noah and Jonah have known me for going on three years, the rest of Lilitu didn’t know me from Adam. For all they knew I was a renegade Indian that was selling scalps out of the back of my truck for a buck fifty a pop. The way I see life is this, shit happens and you can either man up and deal with it or you can cry about it and form an emo band and you all know the latter is not even an option in my book. I made my way up to the room where Jonah, Noah, and Derek were and made myself a comfortable spot on the floor and began to work on my interview questions and made small talk with the guys for about an hour before we all retired for the night.

The next day was an exciting and eventful one to say the least. Following a fine meal at Chili’s where I bought everyone lunch to pay back the band for allowing me to pretty much be with them throughout the day we did the typical tourist activities such as hitting up the mall and going downtown and checking out a few stores while the band got their Starbuck’s fix before we went back to the hotel and showered up and got ready for the gig. Lilitu were scheduled to hit the stage at 9.45 but we had to show up at the venue, The Backroom, at six to unload all the gear and get everything set up so I led the way through hellacious rush hour traffic and we showed up just in time. The next couple of hours were the usual pre show happenings, getting the merch for the shows ready, tuning of the guitars and the interminable waiting for show time. In this between space, I conducted my interview and paced around outside while Noah warmed up and before we knew it, it was time to hit the stage.

As this was part of a The End Records showcase, there were no official headliners, everyone had equal set times. Because of this Lilitu’s performance was a no frills show without any effects, not even an intro tape. After a quick hello the band stormed into the opening number Only the End of the World Again. Just as it is on the album this was the perfect song to choose to get everyone riled up and into a head banging frenzy. The sound on the stage was clear and every instrument was audible without being overbearing on anyone else. On my left Jonah and Noah were both head banging constantly and when Jonah didn’t have any keyboard spots he’d step back and thrash around anyways while throwing horns at everyone in the audience. Noah looked right at home with the band and played like a seasoned professional. If you didn’t know you wouldn’t have the slightest clue that this was his first show with the band, they gelled on stage from the very the fist note, there was that special chemistry that you get when you witness a band in its top shape and form. Over to the right was Jason and while he was still a bit more reserved, he was studiously examining his guitar while he riffed and soloed, he still smiled quite a bit and looked like a person who knows his gig is going extremely well. In the back Corey had a similar demeanor, every time I saw him he was either smiling or looking as if he had an intense and laborious task in front of him that required all his concentration even though the drum parts flowed like wine. Right in front of me not more than seven inches away was Derek who gave a perfect example of what an instrument laden front man should be. Despite the fact that inherently a singer who also plays the guitar or bass live will have less mobility and freedom onstage to run around, he still had a commanding presence. Whether it was head banging with the rest of the group or joining Jason or Noah in classic metal dual guitar wielding fashion he kept the crowd going and never seemed confused or befuddled to be on the stage as the first band of the evening's singer had. The second song of the night was a new one called Strike Another Promise and Watch It Burn, and I used this one to take most of my pictures in seeing as how I couldn’t sing along as well as pump my fist or throw horns. While taking the pics I heard a song that was already heavier than the material on The Delores Lesion as well as being one of the faster tunes they’ve done too. There were more than a few highlighted keyboard passages, much more so than any of the songs on The Delores Lesion, and this extra ingredient spiced the sound of the band and gave it a new slant that I am eagerly waiting to hear on any upcoming releases. The broodier title track followed and as a solid mid tempo song this was a great way to let the crowd catch their breath if only for a few moments. I have to say that the clean break about three fourths of the way through where it’s just Derek, Corey, and a few scant notes from Noah sounded magnificent and the vocals were steeped in rich emotion. Follow Through brought the head banging part of me back to the table. As this is one of my favorites from the album I sang every word right back to the band and because I was screaming and banging in a fever pitch I honestly can’t remember all that much about it cos I was so into the moment, those six minutes flew by. Desolation Breeds was aired after a few words to the crowd and with its heavily punctuated riffs and verses this had the same effect as the title track did on the crowd. The second new song of the night, Another Session, was played and although I prefer Strike Another Promise and Watch It Burn that isn’t to say that this was a dud. I liked the way the verses were sung alternating between a clean passage over bass and drums before going back into the trademark scream. I would say that fans don’t have to fear what the next album will sound like after hearing these two newbies next to the material on The Delores Lesion. Lilitu closed the set with Even the Vultures Have Moved On and I couldn’t have picked a better number myself. Knowing that this was the final song of the night I threw everything I could into going as absolutely balls out crazy as possible. I shouted along until I was hoarse banged my head til my neck felt as if was going to snap, and before I knew it the final chorus rolled by and it was time for the lengthy ending flourish.

I was just as anxious and excited as the band leading up to the show and they did not disappoint me one bit. As they broke down their gear I gave some respect knuckles to Jonah and congratulated the guys on their set and then made my way over to my friend from San Antonio that came up to catch them and asked him what he thought because this was his first true exposure to the guys after hearing me rave about them for a month. “I fucking loved it,” was his response and he hauled ass over to the merch area and bought the cd on the spot. We unwound a bit in the back and then the guys did a TV interview for a local metal show. I did spot Erika from Ignitor walking around and went up and introduced myself and told her I enjoyed their EP and then Jonah and I headed back to the hotel and waited for everyone else to come back so we could help unload their gear. At this time it was close to one thirty in the morning and the band was ready to crash out and prepare themselves for the sixteen hour drive back to Atlanta in the morning so I said my goodbyes to everyone, jumped in my truck and headed back to San Antonio blasting The Delores Lesion and Memorial the entire time. I’m glad I was able to see Lilitu play their Texas debut, I would have felt dirty if I hadn’t been there.

Thanks go out to the band yet again for letting me spend the day with them and also Andreas from The End Records for talking to the security there and allowing me to take photos during the set (look for those in the upcoming interview).

Killing Songs :
Ben quoted
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