I’ve always been a fan of The Kills. Before Monday, however, I had never seen them in concert and I was curious as to how their music would translate live with only two people on stage, neither of whom would be a drummer. I did not lack faith in the awesomeness of the show I was about to see, though, because I had experienced Alison Mosshart and the Dead Weather at last year’s Capitol Hill Block Party and I haven’t stopped dreaming about her since. As long as the music fell in line, I was ready to be blown away again.
Los Angeles rockers The Entrance Band started the night off with an impressive set, and were soon followed by Cold Cave. The Showbox was already close to full before the three members of the Brooklyn synth-pop outfit took the darkened stage, and throughout their set the only light came by way of a few blue and purple stage lights. It was hard to pick out any distinguishing features of the band members, but I’m pretty sure they were wearing leather. Musically, their set consisted of a continuously tweaking cacophony of high-pitched, often abrasive synth effects turned up so loud that it was often difficult to hear band leader Wes Eisold’s vocals. Also fun were the ridiculously energetic gyrations of the band members, the industrial sounding drums that brought to mind Phil Collins, and a static-y “instrumental” digression that sounded more like the Emergency Broadcast System alert than anything else. They showed flashes of catch-iness, but I don’t think this was the particular time and place for a Cold Cave show.
It seemed like the crowd that had congregated on 1st Ave following Cold Cave’s set instinctively sensed when The Kills were about come on, as everyone put out their cigarettes and headed back into the Showbox almost simultaneously a little before 10 pm. Sure enough, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince came on stage promptly at 10, backed by a sparkling leopard-print backdrop and with Mosshart wearing a leopard-print shirt to match (cue a seductive growling noise). By now the sold-out crowd was in full attendance and going wild; I had no idea The Kills had such a following in Seattle. They played “Future Starts Slow” and “Heart Is A Beating Drum,” two favorites from their new album Blood Pressures, back-to-back early in the set to get the crowd even more riled.
Like I said, I was curious as to how they’d pull off their sound live with only the two of them onstage, and for the first few songs I couldn’t help but think how much better the show would have been if they had a live drummer (they had a drum track playing behind them). It wasn’t until I was walking to my car after the show that I revisited this even occurring to me. Mosshart’s stage presence - which consisted of perfectly timed and perfectly sensual gesturings, thrustings, steps, stoops, and loogie-hawking - and Hince’s guitar riff-age overpowered any need for a live drummer or any other musicians. They were both so good that anything else would have only served to dilute the two best parts of The Kills’ sound, presence, and identity. Mosshart and Hince were up there on pedestals and that’s the way it should have been.
They continued to play heavily from their Blood Pressures, which I left liking even more than I already had, as well as some older favorites such as “Sour Cherry” and “URA Fever.” After a three-song encore, Mosshart and Hince joined hands to bow to the crowd, and I can’t imagine anyone in attendance wishing anyone else had been up there besides just the two of them.