The Kills The Red Room, Vancouver, BC - March 26, 2005

The Kills The Red Room, Vancouver, BC - March 26, 2005
Sure, bragging rights go along with the ability to say you saw the White Stripes when they played the 150-seat Piccadilly Pub before they were huge. I suspect that in the not too distant future, having caught the Kills' recent sold-out show at the undersized Red Room will incite the same kind of jealousy. There are other similarities between these two bands as well: they both fit into the re-popularised punk, blues, garage rock genre and are essentially girl-boy duos whose romantic history and status are part of their mystique. But despite their lesser-known status, the grittiness, intensity and amazing live energy between vocalist/guitarist W (aka Alison Mossheart) and Hotel (aka Jamie Hince) clearly raise the Kills above their Detroit peers and then some. Half-American, half-British, but now based in London, the Kills' sound and live show are in many ways more reminiscent of an earlier New York punk rock no-wave feel, à la Velvet Underground. Although it might be interesting to hear what they would sound like with a warm bodied drummer, it wouldn't be worth upsetting the unique intensity between Mossheart and Hince, particularly live. Simple, driving chugging guitars, feedback and lo-fi drumbeat/samples are what strike you, causing irrepressible head-swaying from the moment they hit the stage. Despite some early technical problems, they seemed to have the intimate Red Room crowd in their hands immediately. Throughout the show I was struck and captivated by W's sexiness and energy, which was hard not to compare to PJ Harvey's. With W on vocals, often backed by Hotel, they also have an '80s Sonic Youth feel, or even early Blondie (before they succumbed to disco). Most of the lyrical content is simplistic, but the delivery is consistently hypnotic. You can't help feeling voyeuristic watching the continuous interplay between W and Hotel on stage. And it's worth the ticket price just to witness the threesome that takes place between them and his feedback-laden guitar.