Wed June 26
If you've ever been to Texas, you know that it's less like a state and more like a separate country--a massive, sovereign country that is just floating in the undesirable land between the Midwest and Mexico. A state where God and football are one and the same, guns and steak are commonplace and the birthplace of our retarded President. But, according to the three young rural Texas men in the epic rock band Lift to Experience, their beloved state of Texas is the Promised Land, handpicked by God to be the New Jerusalem. So when the Apocalypse comes (which is pretty soon, by the way), Texas is the only safe haven. Okay, yeah. And it gets weirder
To fully comprehend the music and the biblical prophecies of Lift to Experience, you must try to understand the members of the band. Josh "Buck" Pearson (guitar/vocals), and Josh "Bear" Browning (bass) are Texas boys true and true, who wear jeans (Wranglers) and can more than likely rope cattle, cut up cattle, and then eat said cattle for dinner. They are real American men, in that John Wayne, defending the Alamo kind of way. The band is not shy to point out that they possess firearms; Pearson says he has "a very nice gun rack" in his truck.
Drummer Andy "The Boy" Young is a Louisiana native who found himself in rural Texas at the tail end of his "Kerouac-inspired road trips." He just stayed there because, as Young is quick to point out, there is a famous bumper sticker that reads, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could." Meanwhile, Pearson's childhood paints a picture not seen in many rock-n-roll bios; he spent his childhood living on the fringe of the Southern Pentecostal movement in the '70s, complete with a deadbeat ex-preacher father who abandoned his family to better service The Lord. So, when his teenage years came rolling around, he picked up the guitar and rebelled the only way he knew how.
However, the only thing more bizarre than the upbringings of its band members is Lift to Experience's music. Their music can best be described as an indierock American Gothic novel penned by David Koresh. Somewhat similar to Spiritualized in sound (but replace the addiction to drugs with an addiction to God, and a British style with rural Texas tumbleweed), Lift to Experience are a musical locust plague, filled with fire, brimstone, and waves of distortion pedals.
Their debut album, the Texas Jerusalem Crossroad (Bella Union), is unquestionably a conceptual record. It's a start-to-finish story where naîve Texas farmhands are thrust into the spotlight of God's gleaming light and told to spread his message of the coming Apocalypse via their music. Lift to Experience say that according to God, Texas will soon be the chosen Promised Land and we Portlanders are going to be fucked biblical-style, unless we pack up and move there soon.
Their devotion to the Lord and the Lone Star State aside, it's impossible to overlook the intensity of Lift to Experience's music. Maybe it's the rural living that's to blame, but their music possesses a musical maturity that far exceeds their peers, as if they have been set for bigger and better things all along. The band has whipped up the U.K. into a flurry of sold-out shows, fabulous press write-ups, and multiple Peel Sessions. But back here in America, they're still relatively unknown, despite playing live show after live show under their stage getup of a gigantic Texas flag and a cattle-skull attached to the microphone stand. As a live band, Lift to Experience are just as intense as they are on record. Each swell of guitar fuzz and distortion is matched with a rumbling rhythm section and Pearson's borderline falsetto and spoken vocals. Throw in the bizarre stage props and the band's hermitic beards, and you have one of the most unforgettable, appealing, and intimidating live shows you will ever see.
To an atheist kid like myself, this whole Texas-as-the-Promised-Land thing seems pretty far-fetched. Furthermore, I'm not a big fan of putting The God in The Rock, if you know what I mean. But the three humble Texas boys sound so colossal, with every note reigning down in epic proportions, that they just might have God on their side after all. Amen!