There’s something immensely satisfying about seeing bands that not only know their sound, but own it. They’ve familiarized themselves with the intricacies of their genre and dwell in that groove. That’s the case with dark pop auteurs The Kills, and to a certain extent their opening act L.A. Witch, who both played the Danforth Music Hall this past Saturday, May 21st.
L.A. Witch can perhaps be entirely and thoroughly summed up with the descriptor “surf grunge”. Their washed-out, sun-bleached grooves are the exact result you’d expect from mashing the 1960s and the 1990s together. It’s like if Best Coast went hard; scuzzy approximation of the sound of California vis a vis two disparate decades.
The Kills on the other hand, have a sound that is all at once unplaceable and yet stunningly familiar. Although they’re “technically” listed as garage rock, it wouldn’t sound right in any garage I’ve ever been in. It’s a massive, roof shaking aesthetic that belongs in arenas and stadiums. The closest points of comparison would be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Metric if either of those bands turned the amps up to 11 and kept them there.
Nearly all the tracks played were heavily percussive, coupled with wall-of-sound guitar from axeman Jamie Hince. Ranging from classics like “No Wow” and “Sour Cherry” to songs from their upcoming album Ash & Ice, there was no reprieve from the duo’s onstage fury. When lead singer Alison Mossheart wasn’t in front of the mic she would prowl the stage like a hungry lioness stalking her prey, biding her energy before unleashing it in a storm of thrashing and headbanging when it was time to sing.
They’re both intensely comfortable in their zone, and their longevity can be attributed to this. While nearly all of their peers from the 2000s rock boom have long since fallen off, they’ve stayed devoted to their core sound and stuck around well into this new decade. From the looks of this concert, it’s pretty clear they’re in it for the long haul.