Monday, May 12, 2008

The Kills take on Chicago with harder beats and a creeping singer

Never in my life have I seen two people work a stage the way The Kills did at the Metro on Friday night. Having seen them years ago in Brooklyn when they opened for Sleater Kinney, I had high expectations as they’d been the highlight of a show that they weren't even headlining.

As soon as they stepped onstage, vocalist VV (aka Alison Mosshart) intimidated the crowd as she paced the stage in circles while guitarist Hotel (aka Jamie Hince) started the opening sample for “U.R.A. Fever,” the infectious first single from their new album, Midnight Boom. The vocal tradeoff between the two of them was so hypnotic and gushed with so much sexuality and downright ‘cool’ that not one body in the crowd remained still. Immediately after this song, not even stopping to talk to the audience, the boot stomping beat to the bluesy “Pull A U” started and really got the show started. It was impossible to ignore the feeling of a room full of feet stomping to the beat along with VV.

It wasn’t until they performed “No Wow,” the title track from their second album, that I really realized how far they’d come since I’d seen them last. No Wow was an album that was a hard pill to swallow—it was good in all the right places, but it was a bit of a departure from the groundwork that was laid out on The Kills’ first album. So when “No Wow” sounded as spectacular as it did, along with the other songs they’d performed from that album throughout the night, it was clear that they’d come a long way in a short time with their sound. The beats hit harder, courtesy of their drum machine, and the guitar riffs were raunchier. The songs had taken on a new life and were far better than the album ever could have been.

The visual aspect of the show was equally as intense as the music. The Kills performed in front of a massive screen, which displayed random visuals that usually had nothing to do with the music (most of the time, it was just people dancing), but still managed to make some sense in a very fickle and abstract way. But the really visually stunning part of The Kills raucous show was the way VV crept around the stage and teased the crowd. At any given time, she’d go right up to someone’s face and sing her lyrics. While this might sound exciting to be a part of, it’s actually quite creepy because of The Kills’ sort of ‘heroin chic meets British punk meets Velvet Underground’ image.

Whether if you like your music dirty and sexy or if you just like to see a visually stunning live show, catching The Kills should be at the top of your list of bands to see . . . they’ll just keep getting better and better. - Neil Miller, Jr.