(See also: Our The Kills and Eleanor Friedberger slideshow)
September 10, 2011
Better than... a date with Jack Daniel's.
Opening their nearly-sold out show with the song "No Wow" served as a palette-cleanser for Brit-American duo The Kills. Forget that singer Alison "VV" Mosshart fronts The Dead Weather with Jack White; forget that guitarist Jamie "Hotel" Hince just made an honest woman out of Kate Moss; forget that after a decade of making music, the band is finally enjoying commercial success with the release of "Blood Pressures." The Kills don't want your awe--they just want to make you sweat.
Which wasn't difficult. The floor was packed, bulging into the aisles with shoves-of-war between folks vying to get a good spot. But it was when Mosshart began writhing to Hince's blues-punk riffs -- she clad in tight jeans and a shock of pink hair -- that everyone began wiping their foreheads.
The sexiness I expected; Mosshart's commanding performance as a frontwoman, not so much. Her onstage M.O. was predatory, whether panting and pacing like a tiger in heat during "Fried My Little Brains," grinding against the PA during "DNA" or screeching at the crowd during "Tape Song."
She did "wounded" just as convincingly. The ballad "Last Goodbye" saw Mosshart fold her arms and avert her gaze as she crooned, "I can't get by on an odds and ends love." There's a bold, emotive honesty that drives Mosshart. And that's why she manages to stand out not as a female performer, but as a performer who challenges her audience. In that sense, she picks up where Siouxsie left off.
But let's not forget Hince, who was manning lead guitar and samplers. He is, after all, the musical brains of the outfit. And I believe there are fewer guitarists more compelling to watch. Though less animated than Mosshart, he moved with precision and ferocity, like he knows he could fuck you up, he's just choosing not to. The hot n' heavy exchange between the duo during "U.R.A. FEVER" showcased his singing voice, a sleepy but commanding drawl that reaffirmed my desire for more of it on their albums.
On record, The Kills are a perfect cocktail of punk, blues and noise. But their live show is more like a stiff drink: simple and fiery, with a bite that awakens something a little carnal in you.
Critical Bias: I want to be Alison Mosshart.
Random Notebook Dump: Have Hince and Mosshart ever done it? I mean they had to have at least once...but I kind of love not knowing.
The crowd: At most shows, you'll smell weed at some point in the night; this crowd reeked strictly of bourbon. Lots of young folks paying homage to the band (big messy hair for the ladies, slicked back undercuts for the guys, black leather all around), but also a strong presence of middle-aged Elvis Costello types. Lots of die-hards, including a crowd of 20 or 30 who waited in back for over an hour to maybe get their merch signed after the show.
Set list below.