The Kills rocked The Neptune Monday night with their primal, unbridled energy. Alison Mosshart’s sweaty, almost dreaded hair went handsomely awry as she whipped around, belting out lyrics in sneering harmony. Jamie Hince orchestrated the sound of the band, shooting sparks from his effects-laden guitar. Seemingly chaotic, once the beat hit a groove, their frenetic movements found rhythm amongst sexy, churning chords. The sound balanced salty and sweet — chaos and control.
The band grew out of a long term collaboration across borders circa 2000, but are now based in New York and London. Their fourth and most recent studio album, Blood Pressures, came out in 2011. A new album is in the works, but Mosshart and Hince gave the audience no new tastes Monday night, and have been very quiet in interviews about the process. The show was also being streamed by Yahoo Live, so the band may have wanted to avoid giving any spoilers to worldwide audiences. Nevertheless, the crowd was treated to a great rendition of “Fried My Little Brains,” an oft-overlooked song from 2003’s Keep On Your Mean Side.
Their signature sound is backed by a simple drum machine, giving the songs a direct and punchy attitude on record. This isn’t rendered live easily, and the band made a good choice to have two tom drummers on stage with them. The result was a beefed-up Kills, full-bodied and all-encompassing with a steady, grooving beat that reached into the soul — and the crowd nodded along eagerly.
As his guitar crooned through the end of “Baby Says,” Hince sank down onto the floor, inviting Mosshart to kneel opposite him. He strummed through the last delicate notes, affectionately headbutting her as they stood up. There’s a great comfort between them that can be at once sexually charged and suddenly familial, and it’s powerful to watch them interact.
Opening band Baby in Vain from Copenhagen, Denmark was a pleasant surprise. Comprised of three teenage women wearing Beatles and Velvet Underground shirts, the band had a hard edge beyond their years. They coursed through dirty, dark sludge grunge with feedback the likes of Jack White, and their writing was raw and unrefined in an honest and refreshing way. Singer Lola Hammerich asked the crowd, “Are you excited for The Kills?” dropping her voice at the end and putting two rock fists to her head as devil horns. The crowd laughed, and the band rolled onward, a wonderful mix of dark and playful.