By Michel Dussack and Emilia D’Albero
On February 11th, UK duo The Kills played the final show of their January/February 2012 tour at Terminal 5 in New York City. This wasn’t just any final show of a tour though, as it was also a celebration of the band’s 10th anniversary of the first show together on February 4th, 2002 at 12 Bar in London. There were special photo booths set up around the venue, a handful of rock legends in the VIP balcony (I’m looking at you Joan Jett), and tons of video cameras all over so the show could be live streamed for MTV Hive. Sharing in this special occasion with The Kills were two absolutely outstanding support bands – Hunters and JEFF the Brotherhood.
Hunters were the first band to play to an already crowded Terminal 5, and the Brooklyn based band certainly did not disappoint. They played around 7 songs in their 25 minute set and impressed a crowd (and reviewer) who were largely unfamiliar with them. Their aggressive instrumentation is led by pounding drums, wailing guitar riffs and in your face basslines, and the shared vocal duties of Derek Watson and Isabel Almeida distinguish them from other indie-punk bands out there. It’s not just the vocals though, lyrics that would normally be overlooked in a punk band are given emphasis from the pair of them singing them at the same time, or trading lines. While Watson takes on a very straight forward approach to delivering his vocals, Almeida is the total opposite, throwing herself all over the stage, screaming her lines with passion and fire. It was clear that the two are more than band mates, especially during the beginning of their set when the two shared a microphone as they moved closer and closer to each other, which eventually led to Watson lying on top of Almeida on the floor as they sang to each other. At one point a fight seemed to break out towards the front of the crowd during their set, and Watson made sure it was resolved before the band started their next song. During their third song, Watson jumped off the stage, guitar in hand, to play in the photo pit to be closer to the crowd. However this obviously wasn’t close enough for him, as he quickly climbed the barricade and started crowd surfing as he played guitar. The highlight of their set was undoubtedly the track “Noisy Bitch” which features an insanely catchy riff that’s been stuck in my head since they played it, heavy verses, and a fairly subdued chorus and plenty of “woah oh’s” which all comes together to form an incredible song. Needless to say, Hunters set the bar high as the first band on the bill.
Next up were JEFF the Brotherhood a duo of two, well, brothers hailing from Nashville, Tennessee. To say these guys put out an incredible amount of sound for a duo would be an understandment, in fact it’s hard to believe that a bass and a drum kit can make so much noise. The duo kept banter to a minimum, letting their music speak for itself. The highlight of their set, however, was not entirely their own, as they had a bit of a special guest during their song “Whatever I Want”. Yes, much to the crowd’s delight, none other than Alison Mosshart stepped on stage to perform with JEFF the Brotherhood, and it seemed that Terminal 5 was going to collapse from the sheer amount of excitement. Alison gave her all wailing along with vocalist Jake Orrall. While the duo played a great set, and captivated the audience’s attention during it, it was obvious that everyone was more than ready for The Kills to take the stage.
Shortly before 10:30, the venue cut to black and a single white spotlight shone down on the stage, however, it was The Kills’ Allison Mosshart or Jamie Hince that stepped into it. Rather it was BP Fallon, a man who shouldn’t need an introduction, but did so any way for the younger ones in the crowd. He spoke of the importance of this show for The Kills, and asked the crowd to join in and sing “Happy Birthday” to them. After the crowd happily obliged him, Mosshart and Hince (VV and Hotel respectively from here on out) stepped onto the stage to a frenzy of applause. Hotel was grasping a bouquet of roses and a camera, though he quickly threw the roses into the crowd. He quickly took a photo of VV in front of the crowd, and they then began a 90+ minute, 21 song set that encompassed the bands entire decade long career.
The band kicked the night off with “No Wow” off their second album, curiously the only song from it played the entire night. About halfway through it, four drummers with their faces obscured by bandanas took their spots behind the duo and performed with them for the rest of the night. While the visual effect was absolutely incredible, especially given how synchronized in their drumming they were, they did seem to be more for show than sound though. Regardless, it’s nice to see The Kills stepping outside of their two person set up and switching things up while trying to add a bigger dynamic range to their live sound. Two songs from their newest album “Blood Pressure” followed, and sounded great, though it was the next song where things really started the get going for them. While “Kissy Kissy”, from their debut album “Keep On Your Mean Side”, initially separated the new fans from the ones that have been following the band from the beginning, it seemed to get the band into full form and from there, things only got better.
The rest of the main set featured mostly tracks from “Blood Pressure” and “Midnight Bloom” all played with nonstop intensity and fervor. A gorgeous cover of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” was tucked in there and though it slowed the tempo down, it didn’t kill the momentum that they had built up. A little later on in The Kills’ set, Hotel dedicated newer song “Baby Says” to his wife Kate Moss. It was the final song of the main set that was truly the highlight though, a rousing rendition of “Pots and Pans” featuring VV on drums and Hotel’s heavily blues influencing guitar licks served as a fitting first goodbye, though not a single person dared to leave the show before they returned for their encore, a smart move considering the encore took the main set and stomped on it.
While at first it seemed that it would be a typical encore from The Kills with “The Last Goodbye” and “Nail in My Coffin” opening it up, the band was just working backwards through their catalogue. A heavy version of “Sour Cherry” came next and at this point, not a single person on the floor was standing still, instead everyone was dancing along with The Kills. At this point a fair amount of people seemed ready to head for the exits as a typical encore is usually three songs at most, however The Kills weren’t done yet. VV took to the microphone to let us know that the next one was “one of the first songs we ever wrote” and those on their way out of the venue quickly ran back to their spots. An incredible one-two punch of “Fuck the People” and “Monkey 23” followed and closed out the night. “Monkey 23” was the perfect slow yet passionate ending for an amazing night, a track that really captures and epitomizes the beauty that The Kills are masters of creating. After the two tracks were finished, Hotel and VV took to center stage to share a hug, as well as bow for the crowd and an emotional VV had one more thing to say. “Thank you so much for the last ten years, I hope we see you for the next ten….fuck, amazing”. Indeed, there’s not a doubt in my mind that as long as The Kills keep writing great music and putting on such amazing live shows, they will indeed see us for at least another ten years.
All photos courtesy of Michel Dussack
JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD