At 27 years of age, Liam Finn is already a veteran to the music scene. Finn has been around music since he was a young child: he formed the acclaimed New Zealand group Betchupeda at the age of 14. The son of Neil Finn, who rose to fame with the group Crowded House, Liam knew at an early age that music would be play prominent role in his life.
I had the opportunity to catch Finn’s set at the Solid Sound Music Festival this past June, and to say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. It was my first introduction to Finn’s work, and what I took away from the show was that he really knew how to play to a crowd; Finn’s energy was almost unparalleled that weekend.
Liam released his second album, FOMO, earlier this year. The record’s name stands for the psychological condition, “fear of missing out,” and it is Finn’s most concise and focused collection of music. Finn states that it was definitely the hardest record to make because of [a] “clear goal to create an album that was sonically consistent the whole way through.” With help from co-producer Burke Reid, Finn accomplished that goal. Part of the reason for the difference in sound between I’ll Be Lightning (Finn’s first solo album) and FOMO is that according to Finn the former was more an album for himself, resulting in less pressure from the outside community.
On Sunday September 18, I had the chance to catch Liam Finn at World Café Live in Philadelphia. The venue was not the most ideal place for Finn’s high energy. For most of Thom McCarthy and Marques Toliver’s sets people seemed to be content with sitting down and guzzling beers and expensive cheeseburgers. Once Liam Finn hit the stage and picked up his guitar the mood of the crowd shifted. The show opened with Finn looping tracks on both guitar, and keyboard, until finally taking a seat behind the drum kit. The rest of Finn’s band joined shortly after for a powerful rendition of the track, “I’ll Be Lightning.”
What separates Liam Finn from a vast majority of live acts is that he simply carries the same amount of energy whether there are 40 people in the audience or 4,000. The band jumped into the incredible pop tune “Cold Feet” early on in the set, which definitely pleased the crowd at WCL. This particular song showcases Finn’s ability to craft a beautiful pop song and incorporate it into the live set without coming of as hokey.
The adrenaline of playing live is something that Liam spoke to me about during our interview. Finn was quick to focus on the cathartic nature of his live presence, which he certainly lived up to that night. If there was ever a more perfect example of this, it was late in the set when he ditched his guitar for a Theremin on the track “Lead Ballon” and leapt on to the tables separating the stage from the crowd.
A personal favorite of the night was the epic FOMO closer “Jump Your Bones,” a song that was meant to be played live. The energy that Finn and his band pull out during this tune was inspiring to witness. Finn flailed about the stage from guitar to drums and everywhere in between. To be perfectly blunt, Finn and his band deserved to be playing in front of a packed house. The truth is that for the fans in attendance it didn’t matter; the group performed with as much energy as they did when they played to a packed crowd at Solid Sound Festival this past summer.
Liam Finn truly is one of the more inspiring musicians going at it these days. In a perfect world, he would be back in Philadelphia playing to a sold out crowd that can give Finn as much energy as he gives them. As we ended our phone interview Finn told me that one of the most amazing things about touring is the relationship he develops with the fans from different cities and countries where he plays, saying “Every nation has a different characteristic and each place is receptive in their own way.”