Wednesday night at Schubas was a punky indie rock extravaganza for the ages as both Liza Anne and Australia’s unofficial Poet Laureate, Alex Lahey, gave their sold-out crowd something to write home about. Both brought such high amounts of energy and intensity to their sets that it made it damn near impossible for even a casual fan like me to look away from the stage for even a second for fear of missing out on something spectacular.
As someone who’s never been to New York, I can assure you Liza Anne is a person who perfectly encapsulates the New York DIY indie rock scene. If you walked into their set with a blindfold on, there’s no way in hell you’d think all those sounds were coming from just two people. Liza somehow cracked the code of how to sound like a five-piece for less than half the price and they’re all the better for it as their crust-laden indie rock stylings akin to artists like Miya Folick, IAN SWEET, and illuminati hotties fit so well with their minimalist stage setup. They brought some inspiring versatility to the stage as for every couple of upbeat rockers, they weren’t afraid to go tender on some songs and show off their emotional side with poignant themes of friendship, love, and finding your true self amongst seas of uncertainty. Before ending their set dancing with pom-poms, we got a really special acoustic performance by Liza’s drummer Allie (apologies if I spelled that name wrong) of an original song they wrote and it was absolutely among the highlights of the night. Their voice was so unique while sounding so comfortably familiar and was only complemented by all the atypical chord structures that they had decorating the song.
Having only heard Alex Lahey’s music for the first time mere days before their show at Schubas Wednesday night, I didn’t have a lot of expectations going in besides knowing that they’d probably bring the heat knowing the prevalence of pop-punk found in their particular strain of indie rock. However, what I didn’t see coming was just how wholesome and funny they were and both their music and stage banter made for a really fun evening. Having just released their third full-length album a handful of days before the show, Alex’s 14-song set was composed mostly of tracks from their new album, The Answer Is Always Yes, with a few classics and a cover sprinkled in for good measure.
They opened the show with a three-song block of new songs starting with “On The Way Down”, one of the more hard-hitting numbers of the bunch. “They Wouldn’t Let Me In” and “You’ll Never Get Your Money Back” followed, each being some of the more rowdy songs the new album has to offer so it really made sense to start the show with them to get the crowd in the right state of mind. Following those songs up with one Alex said they rarely play anymore, “Wes Anderson” from their 2016 EP, B-Grade University, provided a welcome change of pace and some more emotionally charged lyricism. Although I do think Alex Lahey’s newest album is their most accessible and consistent offering yet, I still think their second album, The Best of Luck Club from 2019, is the unsung hero of their discography and the only offering that was given from that album was “Misery Guts” but it certainly seemed like it made a lasting impression on the crowd.
Funny enough, both artists had songs about the feeling of regression you get when you move back in, or merely visit your parents for an extended period of time. For Alex, that song was/is “Permanent” from their newest album. It was a nice acoustic break from the guitar-driven energy the rest of their set had and it was as effective on the new record for that very reason. As for the cover, introducing the song as the unofficial national anthem of Australia, Alex and Co. raised a few eyebrows before diving into “Torn” by Australian native Natalia Imbruglia, who herself covered the original by the LA band, Ednaswap. Just as Alex said introducing the song, it was much more of a ripper than the actual Australian national anthem and I’m willing to go along with the facade as long as they are.
Before heading into what would normally be seen as their encore if not for the fact that Schubas encore area for bands is on the street outside the venue, Alex played their biggest song, “Every Day’s the Weekend” from their first album, I Love You Like a Brother from 2017. It’s a fun romp and certainly delivers the smiles live as expected and acted as a great climatic finish to their pre-encore set. For their last two songs, Alex closed out with the title track to their newest album and “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself”, yet another banger from their 2017 debut album. “The Answer Is Always Yes” is among my favorites from that album as it features some lovely synth textures paired beautifully with some intimate acoustic guitar progressions and ends the album, as well as the show Wednesday night, perfectly. Alex wanted to be clear towards the end of the show that the answer isn’t always yes. You are allowed to say no and you should say no whenever you feel like it for any situation you’d like. However, when it comes to buying and/or steaming their new album, or even seeing them in concert on this current album cycle, the answer, undoubtedly, is always yes.
All photos by Lorenzo Zenitsky