Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Heart Is A Beating Drum
The Kills, JEFF The Brotherhood and Hunters at The Kool Haus in Toronto
Frank YangIt hasn’t escaped my notice that my live show schedule so far in 2012 has been pretty lean, and what there has been has been more on the sedate side. Which is fine – I dig the low key stuff and getting home well before midnight – but sometimes you get a fever for something bigger, louder and more rawk… and on those occasions, such as Tuesday night, the perfect prescription is The Kills.
The Amer-English duo were on the road for a second North American jaunt in support of last year’s Blood Pressures, but also to mark their tenth anniversary as a live act; the pair first took to the stage a decade prior to this show less a week. I can’t comment on how they were as performers way back when – the only time I’d seen them live was in 2008 in support of Midnight Boom – but considering the difference between that show and this one, I can only imagine that they’ve come a long, long way since that first gig.
I’m sure it was a longevity that first openers on the night, Brookyln’s Hunters, were aspiring to – goodness knows they’d clearly been taking other notes from the headliners, particularly in making good use of co-ed on-stage chemistry to put on an entertaining show. Derek Watson and Isabel Almeida were either trading off vocals and physically playing off each other over tunes that were garage-punk with a hint of bubblegum, and more adolescently hormonal than sophisticatedly seedy. Their stage presence more than compensated for some musical formulaicness and it was evident that their short set was enough to win them some fans, as Watson went for a set-closing crowd surf – not many openers can be assured of not being dropped.
Nashville sibling act JEFF The Brotherhood had been at it almost as long as The Kills, churning out six albums of psych-inflected garage rock over the past ten years and touring a hell of a lot over that time; it’s therefore not surprising that they already had a fanbase welcoming them back and cheering them on. The Orrall brothers specialize in and excel at a heavy but nimble brand of rock that’s more tuneful than you might think, a balance of sludgy stoner and spirited – if greasy – bar stylings. And they brought Alison Mosshart out to sing on their last song, so they also had that going for them.
At The Kills’ 2008 show, I was impressed how well Jamie Hince and Mosshart were able to put on a riveting show without needing to recruit a live band to back them up, so I was rather surprised to see their stage setup included a row of floor toms along the back – I presumed they weren’t just decorative and someone was actually going to play them. Two someones, as it turned out – a pair of drummers whose duties would include rhythm, clapping and choreography. A surprising break in the Kills aesthetic, but a beneficial one – you wouldn’t say they NEEDED the extra impact of those drums, either sonically or visually, but it didn’t hurt.
You could recruit a children’s choir and a symphony orchestra to back The Kills, though, and ultimately it’d just be about Hince and Mosshart – he of the untouchable guitar swagger and she of the feral intensity to match the giant leopard-print backdrop that hung above the stage, and both lubricating the stuttering mechanical rhythms that underpinned their sleazy electro-blues with sweat, blood, and whatever other fluids you might presume. Understand that I’d never suggest that that last show had been restrained in any way, but it seemed that the duo seemed even more confident and assured this time out – as if whereas before they were satisfied to be propelled by their raw charisma and chemistry, now they were steering it.
Unsurprisingly, the set leaned heaviest on Midnight Boom and Blood Pressures but those who wanted a more career-spanning show got a few bones in set opener “No Wow” – the only representative of their second album – and the two encore closers being pulled from their debut Keep On Your Mean Side. There were also a pair of covers – Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and The Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes” – to rep their forthcoming “The Last Goodbye” 12″, due out at the end of the month.
The Kills aren’t a band I necessarily turn to a lot in my regular listening patterns, but if you need a kick in the ass, a grab in the groin or just a reminder of why you love rock’n'roll, seeing them live is just the thing to do it.
Photos: The Kills, JEFF The Brotherhood, Hunters @ The Kool Haus – February 7, 2012
MP3: The Kills – “DNA”
MP3: The Kills – “Future Starts Slow”
MP3: The Kills – “URA Fever”
MP3: The Kills – “Cheap & Cheerful”
MP3: The Kills – “Black Rooster”
MP3: The Kills – “Cat Claw”
Video: The Kills – “Last Goodbye”
Video: The Kills – “Baby Says”
Video: The Kills – “Future Starts Slow”
Video: The Kills – “Black Balloon”
Video: The Kills – “Tape Song”
Video: The Kills – “The Last Day Of Magic”
Video: The Kills – “Cheap & Cheerful”
Video: The Kills – “U.R.A. Fever”
Video: The Kills – “No Wow”
Video: The Kills – “Love Is A Deserter”
Video: The Kills – “The Good Ones”
Video: The Kills – “Wait”
Video: The Kills – “Fried My Little Brains”
Video: JEFF The Brotherhood – “Whatever I Want”
Video: JEFF The Brotherhood – “Hey Friend”
Video: JEFF The Brotherhood – “Mind Rides”
Video: JEFF The Brotherhood – “You Got The Look”
Video: JEFF The Brotherhood – “Bone Jam”
Video: JEFF The Brotherhood – “The Tropics”
Video: Hunters – “Acid Head”
Stream: Hunters / Hands On Fire
Those of you looking forward to the visit of another co-ed rock machine duo – I speak of Sleigh Bells – will have to wait a little longer. Pitchfork reports that rather than play The Phoenix on the evening of February 18, as they were supposed to, the pair will now be doing their pop-metal thing on Saturday Night Live instead. The Toronto show has been rescheduled for March 27, though their April 27 and 28 dates supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Air Canada Centre are unchanged. Reign Of Terror – the new album – is out February 21 and there’s interviews with the band at The Palm Beach Post, The Orlando Sentinel, and Pensacola News Journal – yeah, I’d say the band are in Florida right now.
Peggy Sue, whose attempt to bring their second album Acrobats to town last November was stymied by some immigration issues with their tourmates, will try again as they’ve been added as support for First Aid Kit at The Great Hall on April 4.
Though their debut My Head Is An Animal still won’t be out until April 3, Of Monsters & Men are clearly already one of Iceland’s biggest exports as demand for their April 16 show has moved it from The Mod Club to The Phoenix.
Video: Niki & The Dove – “The Fox”
Video: Big Deal – “Talk”
Veronica Falls have made a new song available to stream – they were already playing new material on the road last year, you can bet we’ll hear some new tunes at The Garrison on February 14. NOW has an interview with the band in preview of that show.
Best news of the day? Richard Hawley has announced details of his new album. Standing At The Sky’s Edge will be out on May 7 and according to the press release at DIY, it will be more stripped-down affair than recent efforts, built on, “two guitars, bass, drums and rocket noises”.