Monday, September 12, 2011

The Kills, House of Blues, San Diego September 11, 2011

Saw the Kills last night and they are shaping up to be one of my top favorite bands. There's something about Jamie's guitar that seems to mine a well of...uh...plumb a vein of? some deep rock structures so that everything he plays seems seminal even though at the shortest count, fifty years of rock have already passed...uh...under the bridge. (Metaphors are deserting me.) Listening to Kissy Kissy, I seem to hear every rock riff I ever enjoyed inside the sparse guitar-and-drum-machine arrangement, and song after song can summon up the Kills' odd mixture of nostalgia and shock of the new.  Recently, they've added a Mellotron, and for some reason, they can now sound like New Order at its finest, even though I'm not convinced New Order ever had a Mellotron.

They are also very danceable.

They move a lot, and so not a single picture of the Kills last night from my cellphone is worth posting. But I will anyway, as a block of text is very intimidating.

Suffice to say Alison Mosshart's new pink hair is a shock to those of us who envied her thick, straight black locks, but it works beautifully on stage where it's a colorful centerpiece to the duo's kinetic act.  Jamie was craggy and masculine as usual, machine-gunning the faithful at the barrier with his guitar and generally appearing to have fun.

I'm feeling a bit ranty about support acts though. Yesterday we had two. Why on earth would any concert goer need more than 33% of a support act, never mind 200%? What are they actually for?

Yesterday we had Mini Mansions. I've seen them before, supporting the Dead Weather, and quite liked them then. They have a Beatlesque way with words and harmonies that is completely charming, though Heart of Glass appears to have mutated since then to lose the great slide guitar. I'd be happy to pay $5 to hear them in a bar or something.  Their main drawback, in my view, is that they don't have a drummer. Their lead singer plays a snare drum and a floor tom, standing up while singing. However, his job is to go "BANG!" on a drum whenever he feels a "bang" is the noise the music needs. This is all very well, but the drummer-as-timekeeper concept is entirely missing and it makes me feel like I'm at a rehearsal where the drummer couldn't be bothered to turn up. I imagine there are drummers out there who would like the gig, and the singer would be able to go "BANG" when he felt like it even afterwards, so what's the downside in hiring one?

The other support act was Eleanor Friedberger. She had a vigorous musical style that seemed very 80's Valley. She was dressed in standard Lesbian chic - blue shirt and pants, natural hair and natural skin, and a big, big, green guitar. Her singer-songwriter style made us wonder why she'd brought a band - a workmanlike drummer (hey Mini Mansions, there's your chance!) and a bassist and guitarist, both with really boring, non-rock'n'roll hair - since they didn't seem to add anything to it. By happenstance, they stayed still long enough for me to get a picture.

A name for them formed immediately - Tom Patty Smith and the Heartbreakers - and nothing they did made me think they'd improved on the 80's originals.  However, my feet began to hurt so much from standing that I was close to the point of demanding human sacrifices when they fortuitously left the stage.  I totally wanted to go home and read a book. My appetite for rock and roll had been ground off to a nub (uh, metaphors haven't recovered yet). So much for support acts being "warm up" bands.

So, once again, what is a support act for? If it's to get me ready to rock'n'roll, these two weren't it. I'd prefer a decent DJ with 45 minutes of great dance tunes to loosen me up than two hours of derivative post-rock. Oceangal said she'd like something like a comedian, to get us out of ourselves and ready for the headlining act. Is the point to break new music the headlining act really likes? I had no sense that was the case yesterday. And if people want to break new music there has to be a way of doing it that doesn't lead to me to wanting to buy voodoo dolls of them and sticking pins into them. Is it simply to sell more drinks before the headliners come on? I think you might have something there.  Give me a two drink minimum cover charge then, man, so I don't have to stand up two hours on a crowded dancefloor before the Kills come on.

Frankly at my time of life, my ideal concert-going experience would be to have Pegasus whisk me off in my favorite armchair and deposit me at the barrier approximately one drink before the headliners come on.




Malia said...

In general comedians offend or upset me so can't imagine why I recommended having a comedian as an opening act, other than the fact that I am at the point in my life that wasting my life listening to, at best, sleep inducing acts (Evelyn Freewillie), at worst, vomit inducing acts, (ie Clod Cave), makes me very angry (ROS WHEE!!!!). If my feet hadn't been screaming in pain I would have had a very nice nap at the Casa de Bloos, snoring to the beat of Evelyn Foosball . No more general admission, ever.

Mike said...

Well, I played the linked song and ...
Mosshart needs to work on her German accent.


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