The blazing guitars of The Kills are a hard habit to break, and why would you want to anyway?
The rock band The Kills started their brief US tour with a stop in DC on May 14th and left the brimming Lincoln Theatre crowd with many questions. Namely; Damn, how long do we have to wait for them to return to DC? How can anyone play the guitar that furiously? Is Alison okay, it sure looked like she hit her head or sprained something while rocking harder than even Spinal Tap recommends? And wow, did that really happen?
The Kills are Alison Mosshart (on vocals and often guitar) and Jamie Hince (on guitar and occasionally vocals), along with a backing band for this show. Formed in 2001, Alison is from Florida and Jamie is from Buckinghamshire, England. Alison also fronts the supergroup The Dead Weather.
After a fiery performance from the opening band, Dream Wife, who marveled at the size of the crowd and that they had never played to a seated crowd before, Alison and Jamie entered to thunderous applause. I assume that Alison and Jamie would have had the same reaction as Dream Wife, but a) they barely said a word the whole night, outside of belting the song lyrics, and b) no one in the crowd used their seats during their set for anything other than a place to dump stuff on.
With the backdrop an avenue of palm trees before a few exploding volcanoes, The Kills launched into “Heart of a Dog” from their most recent album, Ash & Ice (from 2016). They used that album as the template for much of the night, playing eight songs from Ash & Ice, of the 18 total songs they performed.
For “Kissy Kissy” off their first album in 2003, awash in red lights, Jamie sang lead vocals (one of the few times he sang instead of Alison) over the deep resonating beats of a giant drum (which Alison occasionally banged). Usually Jamie was a blur of motion, strutting about the stage, giving everything he had to furiously strumming the perfect chords on his guitar.
Midway through the main set they played “Future Starts Slow” and “Baby Says”, which may have been the song I enjoyed the most. Both songs slither along as melodic slow burns led by Alison’s voice, with some fuzzed out guitar from Jamie. It’s easy to get hypnotized and just nod along.
Alison’s favorite move was to lean backwards and jerk her full body back to the beat, and at times I wondered if she might actually have the range of motion to hit her head on the stage!
Later they crushed “Doing It To Death” and Alison emphatically fell on the stage as the song ended, the standard-bearer of someone fully spent. This time I was sure she must have hurt herself! But no, she was back up smiling in no time.
They closed out the main set with the new single “List of Demands (Reparations)”, a Saul Williams cover.
They came back for five songs in the encore, highlighted by “Siberian Nights” from Ash & Ice and funky, super-riff happy “Sour Cherry”.
Their show ended with “Monkey 23”, a slower song about the monkey on Alison’s back that controlled her movements all evening (probably). I think the tone helped bring the crowd’s energy down to normal levels to allow us to better re-assimilate with society after the whirlwind of chaotic rock we had just experienced.
They only thing we don’t know is when they’ll be back. If past visits are any indication, we may have to wait a couple of years, and that’s not okay.
Heart of a Dog
Hard Habit To Break
Future Starts Slow
Doing It to Death
List of Demands (Reparations) (Saul Williams cover)
Pots and Pans
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