REVIEW AND PHOTOS
BY NICK SPACEK
It's a cliche to say a band sounds like Joy Division, but the Horrors sound JUST LIKE JOY DIVISION -- maybe with the addition of some early U2. What I'd read about the Horrors always seemed to make some sort of Cramps comparison, but no likeness to that band was in evidence at the Bottleneck last night. The five pale, thin young men dressed in black on the stage played music with an occasional burst of energy but concentrated on droning dirges.
Another D word describes the band's stage presence: dull. Aside from singer Faris Badwan rocking back and forth and guitarist Joshua Third slithering in an Axl Rose serpentine, the band was static.
The sound was amazing. I've been going to shows at the Bottleneck for about 12 years, and this was the best-engineered show I've heard there. Too bad the band was so dull that after 20 minutes, I stopped watching this group of heroin-chic Brits and started playing "spot the unfortunate fashion decision," which usually means I'm in need of several more drinks in order to enjoy the band further. The only thing exciting that happened during the Horrors' set came at the very end, when the band finished, and the guitarist and lead singer walked off stage and right out the front door.
The Kills, on the other hand, were as dirty, raw and sexy as the Horrors were sterile, antiseptic and cold. Singer Alison Mosshart showed no side effects from her trip to the hospital in Denver the night before, seemingly fine after a bout with low oxygen. She and guitarist Jamie Hince opened with "U R A Fever," sending a simple message: "Fuck you -- we can open with the single because we're good enough to keep you around." And they were.
The audience danced. Well, not everyone, but a lot of people were grooving. (A few folks, anyway, seem to have wandered in early for the Bottleneck's usual Neon Dance Party.)
The Kills are better suited to a venue like the Replay or the Jackpot. With a two-person drum-machine-sequencer setup, you crave a little bit of intimacy, or at least a smaller stage, so the musicians don't look lost and alone. Mosshart made the most of the stage space, though, dancing and shaking.
When the show ended, a little before 11, people had just started to follow her lead and loosen up. Usually, I'm all for bands getting done by midnight, but the Kills require late-night friskiness. It's a drunk-sexy-time kind of band, something you could hear exemplified by the set's second-to-last song, a cover of "I Put a Spell on You." The Kills' take was a pastiche of CCR's cover, Nina Simone's version and the Screamin' Jay Hawkins original, the pieces cut apart with a buzz saw and stuck back together with electrical tape. That kind of bloody operation is best performed closer to dawn than to dusk.