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Concert Thu Dec 12 2013
When they started out as a band, The Kills had very minimalist songs and a mysterious aura. Instead of being Jamie Hince and Alison Mossheart when they performed, they were Hotel and VV. They embraced a cool aesthetic that shunned traditional popularity. Comparisons to The White Stripes were inevitable, but through years, The Kills have changed their tune somewhat (so to speak). Their last two albums added a more varied production to their minimalism. It's hard not to see them as bigger and a bit less mysterious given Hince's marriage to Kate Moss and Mossheart's collaborations with Jack White. But all of these notions fell to the wayside when they started playing their set at The Vic Monday night.
Opening for The Kills was U.S. Girls, an eccentric and very experimental project of Meghan Remy. Usually Remy performs alone, with only some loopers and mixers to fill in for live musicians. However, this performance featured a very full band accompanying her on stage. After a very quiet and humble greeting to the crowd, loops of electronic noise filled the Vic. It was a loud abstract prelude that slowly introduced Remy's penetrating voice. Moments later the band tore into the song, instantly making U.S. Girls' music sound fuller and more complete. The live drumming especially added an interesting depth to the songs. "Island Song" started off with her haunting vocals before being transformed into a bouncing rhythm barely recognizable from the way it sounds on U.S. Girls on Kraak. Even with all the help, Remy still utilized some familiar equipment from her completely solo shows. She could be seen occasionally crouching down and fiddling with knobs on her mixers, creating interesting transitional pieces that allowed the songs to flow into one another. Unfortunately this seemed to extend their set and caused it to end prematurely with Remy teasing the audience about an unplayed Bruce Springsteen cover.
A leopard print background slowly descended as The Kills came on stage. Hince determinedly sauntered to one end of the stage while Mossheart slinked to the other. They were accompanied by two drummers who looked straight out of the 50's with their leather jackets, slicked back hair, and red bandanas tied around their necks. The drummers stayed behind their three piece drum sets for the duration of the show, holding up their drum sticks in the form of Xs when not playing. It was a theatrically charged entrance that was perfectly capped with the heavy rendition of "No Wow".
The Kills have a stage presence like no other. Hince rocked back and forth as he methodically played his guitar, one point shredding his guitar with Mossheart's mic stand. His movements were vicious while playing "Fried My Little Brains," where Hince stood over the crowd virtually attacking the audience with his amazing guitar work. During the encore he admitted to playing without any feeling in one of his fingers, adding to his already impressive prowess. Mossheart was the most active on stage, seductively strutting from end to end. Her hair and clothes blew in the wind as she continually switched roles. One moment she would be playing guitar by Hince's side, then move over to the keyboards; all the while belting out songs in her sultry voice.
The setlist spanned their career, although No Wow was the least represented with only its title track being played. Old favorites from Keep on Your Mean Side sounded like mantras, played with a furious intensity. "Monkey 23" in particular felt completely new and fresh after all these years. "Black Balloon," their modern cover of the blues standard "44 Blues," off of Midnight Boom captured The Kills in a very iconic moment. Their wire thin bodies were bathed in a bright pink light; the leopard print background flashing various colors across it's screen. "Sour Cherry", the final song of the night, really turned the Vic on its head. The audience jumped and hollered, moving with every frantic beat of the song. Like any great performance, The Kills left the Vic with the crowd wanting more.