By Ace Ubas
Last Saturday night was a night that I had been looking forward to for the last couple of months. Why? Because The Kills and Cold Cave were on the same bill! Certainly, both bands have the ability and fan-base to headline the Fox Theater in Pomona. Unfortunately only one band could take top billing for the evening, which belonged to the Kills.
As the crowd made their way inside the theater, the New York-based experimental synth-pop group Cold Cave made their way onto the stage as frontman Wes Eisold and company performed tracks from their latest album, Cherish the Light Years (via Matador Records).
The darkened stage and purple lights made Cold Cave appear like silhouettes that made it very hard to see the band members on stage. However, it was very apropos to their dark, new wave, synth-pop style. On “Underworld USA,” Eisold’s resonant baritone (think Morrissey and Dave Gahan) echoed throughout the theater as he hit his highs with great melody. The slower paced “Confetti” featured arpeggiated, New Order-like synths and crisp, reverberated guitars. As opposed to the electronic drums on the record, the live drums on “Villains of the Moon” were pulsating and sharp that made the song dynamic to go along with the beautifully layered synths. It was a great 30-minute set to start off the night. However, the lackluster crowd response was a bit of a turn off. Perhaps they weren’t familiar with them or haven’t listened to any other song other than “Life Magazine,” which they didn’t play.
Next up was Austin, Texas’ The Black Angels. I’ve seen their name pop-up more frequently across numerous music blogs as of late, but I never had the chance to give them a listen so I didn’t know what to expect from them. The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” blared through the P.A. system as the five-piece made their way onto the stage. Their set was one hell of a psychedelic experience. The bluesy bass lines were thick, the guitars swirled with heavy distortion, and the lo-fi vocals emphasized the “trippiness” of their set, engulfing the crowd in a sonic haze. But the real highlights came from powerhouse drummer Stephanie Bailey, who ferociously pounded away at her kit, playing crisp, tight rhythms and primitive beats.
Then it was time for The Kills to hit the hit the stage of the sold-out venue. The duo comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jamie “Hotel” Hince and lead vocalist Alison “VV” Mosshart formed the band back in 2000. Since then, they have been leaving their mark on the indie music scene with three critically acclaimed albums. And this past April marked the release of their fourth LP, Blood Pressures (via Domino Records), which garnered high praise from critics once again.
The Kills emerged from the back to a roaring, thunderous Pomona crowd and entered the stage that was decorated with sparkling lights and a leopard patterned background. They kicked off their set with an older song in “No Wow.” After every chugging riff that Hince played, the crowd followed it up with cheers of approval.
The majority of their set consisted of tracks from their latest effort such as “Future Starts Slow” and “Heart is a Beating Drum,” which feature Mosshart picking up a guitar midway through the song, delivering blistering riffs of her own. While on “Satellite,” Mosshart’s howls harmonized really well with Hince’s more subtle vocal approach, especially on the vocal melody of the song.
The crowd reached maximum insanity when the duo played classic songs such as “Kissy Kissy,” “U.R.A. Fever,” “Tape Song,” and set closer “Sour Cherry.”
When they left the stage, the audience’s demand for an encore was probably the loudest I have ever heard at a show. The Kills finally came back out and changed the pace with the ballad “The Last Goodbye.” Mosshart displayed a hint of vulnerability and tenderness, proving that she can sing graciously with emotion as Hince provided the piano accompaniment. They capped off the spectacular evening with a track from their debut album Keep On Your Mean Side, “Fried My Little Brains,” before clasping hands and taking a bow.
Overall, the entire show was very entertaining and flat-out great that feature bands that provided satisfying diversity in musical styles. The Kills just know how to take command of a show. With amazing on-stage chemistry, Mosshart’s stage presence (strutting, body whips, hip shakes) and Hince’s gritty, raw guitar riffs, they prove that they don’t need a drummer to captivate a crowd.
If The Kills roll through your town, here’s a word of advice: buy tickets A.S.A.P. and see them live!
For the latest news and tour dates, please visit www.thekills.tv
Future Starts Slow
Heart Is A Beating Drum
You Don’t Own the Road
Pots & Pans
Fried My Little Brains