“If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution,” feminist anarchist Emma Goldman once said. That quote could be aptly applied to The Lique’s music.
During the Vegas group’s album-release show Thursday at Vinyl, the five-piece immersed the audience in an hour-long dialogue on greed, classism and vanity. But what The Lique did best was blend those rhymes with grooves so funky and smooth, it would have been impossible not to have a good time regardless of the message.
“The concept of freedom is so subjective that it's hard to tell if things are getting better or worse.” That’s how Lique frontman Rasar Amani explains the concept behind his band’s debut album, Democracy Manifest. “Lately it seems the latter is truer.”
“Ethnic and cultural diversity is on the incline, while xenophobia, racism and totalitarian oppression simultaneously encroaches,” he continues. “We all party away the pain. Our band is made up many ethnicities, yet we're all men wearing suits. [We’re] a walking parody of this conformist society that's still largely based on capitalism and patriarchy.”
Live, Amani’s poignant lyrics fall on ears like razorblades, and cuts like "Democrashy Manifesht" display the band’s sonic fluidity. Together, Sean Carbone (guitar), Jason Corpuz (keys), Jeremy Klewicki (drums), Nick Schmitt (bass) and Amani work as a vessel, exploring the ins and outs of jazz, soul, blues, hip-hop and rock. "Walk Into My Office," for example, starts out as a hip-hop track and then intensifies, leading listeners down an artist's nightmare, with Amani acting as a demented A&R rep. Yes, The Lique succeeds in making you move—but once they’ve got your attention, they make you think.
It’s “a system designed to make innocence bleed,” Rasar says on the intro to the band’s first single, “Batman.” Inside Vinyl, that’s the last song before the encore, and it gets everyone chanting “Batman!” right along with the MC.
Democracy Manifest, which features local guest stars like Butterscotch, Cameron Calloway and Halsey Harkins, was recorded at Downtown’s 11th Street Records and relied on community crowdfunding to get made. It’s the result of a band and a scene working together, and Thursday’s celebration felt like an extension of that vibe. “We want to hold a mirror up to this wacky society,” the band explains, rather poetically, in a news release. “And have some fun as the ship goes down.”