Black and white photo of man with a cigarette standing with his back to the camera in a leather jacket
Credit: Gwen Lopez

Northwest Indiana’s punk scene would be a lot less thrilling without Mat Williams—he’s been the engine behind many of the local bands whose names have filled homemade gig flyers around the Region. If you consider yourself a connoisseur of midwestern punk, you’ve likely collected a cache of his music, whether by Pukeoid, Dagger, Guinea Kid, or the ne plus ultra of 2010s mutant punk, the Coneheads. For the past five years, Williams has been pouring his energy into Liquids, whose scummy-sounding recordings carry so much magnetism, momentum, and joy that you’ll remember all over again why rock briefly became the lingua franca of postwar American youth. The raw rippers on last year’s self-released Life Is Pain Idiot keep you on the edge of your seat by compressing an album side’s worth of songwriting into every 90-second tune—Williams has figured out how to make punk rock feel like it’s being invented right in front of your ears. Recorded by fellow midwestern DIY lifer Erik Nervous, Life Is Pain Idiot dials back Liquids’ scuzziness and leans into power pop, which complements the band’s brutally sharp musicianship and off-the-leash nastiness. Williams plays like a lead-footed Formula One driver who hits the starting line already going 80 miles per hour, which lends extra oomph to every drum fill and guitar lick on the chipmunk-voiced boogie-woogie scorcher “Lemon Rice (Doomed to Live).” Onstage Liquids play with the same need for speed, and their songs are so short that their sets fly past—when I caught them in a Pilsen park one afternoon last summer, I missed most of their show trying to find a bathroom. Be sure to get there early for this one.

Liquids Cobra Man headline; Liquids open. Skate company Worble screens the full-length video Worble World between sets. Sun 7/24, 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, sold out, 21+