The Kills w/ The Horrors, Magic Wands – [Live]

Friday, 26 June 2009

Minutes after making my way past the hipster kids and pushing my way to the front of the stage, I found myself surprised as the lights dimmed and Dexy and Chris Valentine, who go by the name of Magic Wands, walked out onto the stage. Not only did I not know that they were on the bill, but I knew absolutely nothing about them. But, fortunately it only took about half of their first song before I was intrigued, and the second half of that same song before I was a total fan.

Hailing from Nashville, TN, Magic Wands had a sound that can only be described as slightly dreamy, somewhat blues-stompy, and totally fuzzed out. With the drums being provided on a backing DAT, it was just Dexy and Chris with their guitars, and that's really all they needed to create their totally unique sound. Their set was about 25 minutes of slightly Jesus and Mary Chain infused pop with every song containing a hook that stuck with me throughout the evening. To say that they were a pleasant surprise would be an understatement, and am looking forward to seeing them when they return to San Francisco later this summer.

Next up tonight was the band that I was most curious about seeing live, The Horrors. Their new record, Primary Colours, had finally started to grow on me, and never having seen them live before I was quite stoked to finally have the chance to check them out. But, unfortunately I was extremely disappointed in the band’s performance.

I think every gripe I have with their performance can be traced back to vocalist Faris Badwan. Every move he made seem totally forced, and it just felt he was trying way to hard to by either "punk rock" or "shocking." He was neither. Maybe he thought picking up a strobe light and holding it two inches away from my camera lens was a daring move, but for me it just sealed the deal that he was just an awkward frontman trying to look cool. Even when he wasn't doing anything he just seemed so out of place, it really seemed to hamper the rest of the band, and took quite a bit away from the music.

The antics of Badwan aside, the other issue I had with The Horrors was the fact that the did not play one song from their debut album Strange House, and instead concentrated on songs from the new record. Now, normally I have no problem when a band wants to plug their new material live, but it was the garage influenced Alien Sex Fiend sound that got me into these guys in the first place. Ehh… whatever.

As I stood at the foot of the stage with my mixed feelings from the highs of Magic Wands to the lows of The Horrors, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince (aka The Kills) walked out, and within minutes restored my faith in what had been a roller coaster of an evening thus far. The two tore through over a dozen songs, and with no one else sharing the stage they were able to interact with each other throughout the entire set. And as they played off of one another while Alison still managed to climb the monitors and interact with fans, the up to this point motionless crowd finally seemed to have a little life pumped into them. As far as the music, it was just stripped-down rock at its core, and hearing it live gave me a new appreciation for the band.

After their brief set (which included a cover of Patsy Kline's “Crazy”) The Kills returned to the stage, with The Horrors in tow, and the groups joined forces for a version of "Baby Please Don't Go," complete with Alison riding on the shoulders of guitarist Von Grimm. I was glad to see the evening end on a high note.


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