Live in Los Angeles:
September 3, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
Words by Dan Sinclair
Pictures by Nicolas Bates
SEPTEMBER 3, 2016-- The evening officially kicked off in a tiny, nondescript shopping center deep in the heart of Koreatown where the lovely Ms. Hernandez and I stuffed some of the most delicious dumplings I have ever tasted into our mouths. The place is called simply Dumpling House, and they gave us way more food that we could ever eat because this is, after all, America. And speaking of America, my venture continued onto one of America's most picturesque music venues, the world-famous art deco landmark known as The Wiltern. Ms. Hernandez did not get tickets to the show, so she simply dropped my ass off where Wilshire meets Western and got hers out of there as quick as she could.
Native Floridian Alison Mosshart and the British Jamie Hince formed The Kills back at the turn of the millennium, but it wouldn't be until this very night that your humble writer would catch their live performance... and shit, man, it was worth the wait.
This particular tour is in support of The Kills fifth studio album Ash & Ice, and it shows as the first thing visible when the lights go down is a glow-in-the-dark banner featuring the volcanoes from the album cover. I mean, I assume they're volcanoes, if not, I don't what the hell they would be.
When the band takes stage, the first song of the night is off that very album in the single "Heart of a Dog." Mosshart dances, bangs her head, spinning her hair around, jumping and back and forth between the floor and atop the amps that line the front of the Wiltern's stage as she belts out: "I need you/Don't ask me why it is/I want strings attached/Unnatural as it feels."
But it feels pretty natural for Hince as the heavy guitar kicks in and he proudly marches back and forth with his fancy suit jacket. He's on the lower part of the stage with Mosshart, while the two touring members of the band man the drums, bass and keyboard above them. Mosshart thanks the crowd before she shares the vocals with Hince on "U.R.A. Fever" off of their 2008 album Midnight Boom.
During "Kissy Kissy," off the band's debut album Keep on Your Mean, Hince tosses a guitar pick into the crowd and the dancing masses fight for it. It's at this point that I notice that most of the crowd is dancing, but not necessarily as one. They're either in small groups or flying solo, emphatically moving their bodies every which way like nobody's watching as if The Kills were playing a private show just for them. Seems to some The Kills is a very personal experience.
Actual smoke rises from the center of the stage to mimic the volcanoes on the banner-- yes, I'm sticking with volcanoes-- as The Kills return to their new album with "Hard Habit to Break," followed by "Impossible Tracks." On the latter, Mosshart falls to the stage and crawls to the edge of the stage, passionately reaching out to the crowd. A bald gentleman right up front messes his pants like he's never messed them before.
After "Black Balloon," the crowd goes nuts for "Doing It to Death," especially two gentlemen dancing to my left who enthusiastically sing every word in each other's face as they dance together-- one playing air guitar and one manning the drums.
The first song off Blood Pressures is "Baby Says," and it's at this time that a third man returns to hand the dancing duo more drinks, which is clearly exactly what they need. They slow down none for "Tape Song" or even really for the much mellower "Goodnight Bad Morning."
To my right, another loner plays an air guitar as he kicks his legs, marching up and down the ramp leading to the exit. No one has stopped dancing.
The Kills performance is loud, energetic and fun as fuck. "Whirling Eye," "Pots and Pans," "Monkey 23" and "No Wow," all beautifully melt into one another to finish the set out with a bang, including a point where Mosshart stands in front of one of the giant amplifiers on the side of the stage and head-bangs for a good five minutes or so.
The fans love their Kills and scream loud enough for an encore of "That Love," "Siberian Nights," "Future Starts Slow" and "Sour Cherry." You weren't there. Please, take this time to cry.
The writer escapes ahead of the crowd to catch a Lyft before they start the Saturday night surging. He sits back, resting his head on the backseat for a few moments, taking in The Kills performance over in his head and hopes that it's not another 16 years before he gets to do it again.
For more on The Kills, got to TheKills.TV
For more of Nicolas Bates' Photography, check out BatesImaging.com