DS Photo Gallery & Show Review: Nora Marks, Robot Heart Throb & James the Boneless (Liar’s Club – Chicago, IL 1/28/2023)

Shooting the show at Liar’s Club on January 28th posed another first for me in my Dying Scene adventure. I had no prior familiarity with any of the bands this time. The night was going to be a total surprise, what was I getting myself into? Why was James boneless? Who was throbbing the robot’s […]

Shooting the show at Liar’s Club on January 28th posed another first for me in my Dying Scene adventure. I had no prior familiarity with any of the bands this time. The night was going to be a total surprise, what was I getting myself into? Why was James boneless? Who was throbbing the robot’s heart? What was Nora marked with? Or did Nora do the marking? And what would I do if all the bands sucked? Well, thankfully I didn’t have to answer that last one because none of the bands sucked. It was a fun show I was lucky to cover.

First up, to start the night off right, was James the Boneless! There’s quite a backstory for James here. He went through a prolonged period of IV drug abuse, partially disintegrating his freaking bones. Yes his bones, yikes! Thankfully James cleaned up, but that accomplishment brought about another challenge. How could James get back into playing guitar? Well, it would appear he strapped on his sweet Dean Cadillac guitar and taught himself to play it sort of like a slide guitar, baring all the strings. He grips them from the top side of the neck with his forefinger. Although it gives him a way to play, his condition still brings notable pain to the performance, but James pushes through and puts on a great show. The band plays a breed of bluesy soul music with driving rock parts mixed in. The large lineup of the band generated a full and diverse sound. Besides the band’s usual bass, drum, and sax  accompaniment, a synth, trumpet, and additional saxophone were added to the mix for the evening. James said he brought the extra musicians out because it was their debut show at his favorite Chicago venue. Beyond filling the stage with a full sound, I quite appreciated the contrast between the relaxed parts of songs and how they transitioned into energetic rock hooks.You can catch Jame’s the Boneless at  Beer Can’d Fest on April 29th, at the Reopening of the Exit Fest (TBA), and at One City Tap on May 19th.

James was followed by the talented Robot Heart Throb. Described as genre fluid, Robot Heart Throb brought gentle R&B style passages that could morph all the way into heavy rock parts with some hip hop influence sprinkled throughout. At least that’s what I picked up. It was eclectic to say the least and I’m sure there were more influences at play. I’m hard pressed to think of any bands with a similar sonic footprint, making them a truly unique act to witness. The majority of their set consisted of drums, bass, keyboard, and lead vocals. However, the band’s fluidity also spread to their multi-instrumentalist approach to songs. Over the course of the night, the keyboardist took over the bass while the bassist picked up a guitar. On another song the keyboardist sang lead vocals, allowing the frontman to show off his own guitar chops. Besides playing guitar, he brought a saxophone to the mix, and even flute on one song! How often do you see a flute on stage somewhere like Liar’s Club? I’m saying not often, prove me wrong. The mix of arrangements brought all kinds of different vibes to their set. Be sure to check out Robot Heart Throb at their Schubas debut, an EP release show, on April 7th.

Nora Marks closed out the evening, bringing a more traditional lineup and a sound more akin to what I’m used to on stage at Lair’s. They have a fairly standard four piece rock lineup, with 2 guitars, bass, and drums. Their vocal parts fill out nicely with rhythm guitar belting out the lead vocals, backed up by both the lead guitar player and the bass player. Their lineup presented solid, solid rock grooves to the stage. I would say their sound was somewhat laid back but came with plenty of driving parts too. All in all the songs had a feel good vibe you don’t always get these days. The drummer and bass player laid a tight foundation holding everything together. The lead guitar player churned out chimey melodies with her Telecaster that complemented the crunchy power chords of the rhythm player’s Firefly single-cut nicely. Things didn’t stay too mellow though. Towards the end of the set the lead vocalist left his guitar behind and took his microphone for a field trip into the audience. He let loose a great amount of energy and got the crowd even more worked up. It was a powerful end to the evening for sure.Nora Marks will be playing in Chicago on April 2nd as part of the Mic1park Midwest Magic Tour, don’t miss it!

Once more, this was a fun show, a pleasure to hear and a pleasure to shoot! Great performances all around by very talented musicians! Big thanks to Meredith for inviting me to shoot the show. The bands may have all been surprises to me,but it was no surprise to enjoy another excellent show at Liar’s. See the full gallery below!

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