Thursday, July 17, 2003

Rock Shows of Note LXX

Met Geraldine for dinner at the Middle East last night so we could go see the Kills play downstairs. They're Geraldine's sister Meghan's favorite band of the moment, and word was they put on a stellar live show. They do. But first, we caught the end of a set by the Horrors, an intense three piece that specializes in sludgy, blues-tinged swamp garage rock. Or something. Sometimes, the wall of guitar sound would get so dense, my ears would trick me into hearing trumpets or some sort of keyboards. Maybe the guitarist was using some effects. Relatively run of the mill, their sound was still fun, and I'm glad we caught a little of their performance.

Then the Kills! They were amazing. A two piece featuring dual guitarists and electronic drum tracks, their sound reminded me a little of PJ Harvey by way of Mecca Normal or Lois. Extremely distraught, intense singing by the woman. Such presence and danger. Her stringy black hair obscured her face, her skinny frame convulsed and enveloped the microphone stand. Her bandmate was also wonderful, playing sludgy groove-oriented swamp rock accompanied by occasional herky-jerk contortions of his body and sharp guitar stabs. Their interplay was interesting. He was relatively confrontational -- to the audience as well as his bandmate. And when they focused on each other while playing, the intensity increased immensely. An extremely moving, visceral experience. Wonder how it translates to record?

Lastly, the Dirtbombs. With a go-go band-like gimmick (They dub themselves a "dance combo.") of having two bassists (one a diminuitive Asian woman) and two trap set players, the band had straight-ahead R&B-meets-garage rock energy. Yet they were a little too clean for me, falling somewhere between the Estrus roster and the Get Hip back catalog. Perhaps it was the lead singer's vocals -- or the frat party nature of their playlist and songwriting style. We left before the end of their set.

Interesting bits of tour trivia: The Kills' road manager Dave was in a band with Geraldine's sister Meghan. It was fun to meet him -- good luck with your new job! And while the Dirtbombs were playing downstairs, the High Strung was playing upstairs with Squirtgun and a band featuring members of Screeching Weasel. Just the night before, the Dirtbombs and the High Strung played a show together at the Bug Jar in Rochester, New York. Small world, and intersecting tour schedules!

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