The Players: The Kills / The Horrors / Magic Wands
The Venue: La Tulipe, Weds. 6, 2009
The Gist: There are definitely people out to get it, but rock and roll is not dead yet.
The club was packed and The Magic Wands had already played by the time Faraz and I showed up. I'm sorry to have missed them as by all accounts they're pretty neat, and the second opening act, The Horrors, were not very good at all.
The Plot Thickens:
It's a pretty bold move for such a thoroughly mediocre group of musicians to choose a name like that for themselves, and unfortunately, they don't have the chops to pull off the 'joke.' They are, in my opinion, just a bad Joy Division cover band. They might not know it, but this is what they are, and few things are more tedious to watch than tribute bands without enough self awareness to smell the irony. The lead singer aped Rock Messiah moves a la Manson/Reznor, and the the rest of the gang backed him up with blaring, apathetic indie noise. Yeah. Fun. They didn't play for long, though. In fact, they walked off stage abruptly in what I assumed was an effort to seem disaffected and cool, but which just came off as...well, abrupt, and kind of rude. The highlight of their set for me was when the bassist and keyboardist switched instruments for a song or two - an act that has always seemed deliciously transgressive to me...Like kissing your friend's girlfriend on their insistence. At any rate, they're well-meaning lads, from what I could gather, just not very interesting to watch or listen to.
The Kills, on the other hand, are mesmerising. Right from the first song I knew it was going to be a good show. Hotel (Jamie Hince) started up the drum machine and got down to the business of strangling his guitar, while VV (Alison Mosshart) paced around the stage like a panther on a cocaine trip (which...let's be honest, was a possibility, -the panther), and with her raspy-sexy voice grabbed us by that lowdown place good music speaks too. Rock and roll is not dead; it is not lying abused and lifeless on the floor of some MTV execs office. It was on that stage, alive and fucking well. The chemistry between VV and Hotel was...awesome. They captured the vibe a lot of duos could benefit from: barely restrained sexual tension with no hope or promise of a pay off. They also seemed to be enjoying themselves and their audience, jerking and writhing and sweating right till the end when they thanked the crowd for being it's amazing Montreal self, and ambled off.
After an unnaturally long sound check (La Tulipe gets two thumbs down for their preparedness), The Kills came back for a few more songs before sending everyone off into the night a little better off, and a little more confident in the existence of decent, raw, dirty-fingernailed, dark-sunglasses-indoors, kick-ass music.
The Kills - URA Fever - Great video, great song.