KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Borderline Obsession…The Kills

Em Brownlowe


For an xx/xy band that is allegedly platonic, The Kills certainly had a romantic formation. Almost a decade ago, Florida native, Alison Mosshart, was on a UK tour with her late 90’s power-pop band, Discount. The night before she was to return to the States, she felt the hotel floorboards shake to the death rattle of Jamie Hince’s guitar. The vibrations lured her downstairs where she would meet the man who would become her musical soul mate. Together they bonded over their similar tastes in art, music and literature. Both of them ditched their typical power punk bands to create something worth living for. Together, they were born again as The Kills. The next day, Alison returned to the States, only to pack up her belongings, and create a eulogy for her past life. Aftering crossing the Atlantic for a third time, she and Jamie moved into a dank, South London flat to live, breathe and create two critically acclaimed garage rock albums, Keep On Your Mean Side (2003) and No Wow (2005).

After a three year hiatus, the Kills challenged themselves to create a hybrid of artpunk-noir that is less reliant on their mutual appreciation of the Velvet Underground and more committed to redefining their own music. The result is Midnight Boom, a polished collection of songs for the night train featuring a brigade of disjointed drum programming, violent guitar grit and provocative vocal melodies. Midnight Boom was conceived in a nocturnal state and encloses us in an after hours affair. In this darkness, The Kills provoke us to trade love for lust, dance as if we don’t notice that our own hearts are raw and bleeding until we wake up feeling ill yet hopeful. Known for their explosive, sexed-up live performances, The Kills are sure to turn you on to their forward-thinking sound of 2008.

Seeing someone you only see on YouTube or in magazines and whose art you completely adore is quite surreal… It’s like a photograph that has come to life and you’re the photographer, capturing memories of what you are apart of. I try not to have expectations but my anticipation suggested the show would be nothing less than incredible…and it was. We were so close…Beth almost got hit in the head with Allison’s microphone. It was also the hottest day of Portland (90+) and everyone was swimming in each other’s perspiration. Despite the heat, the Kills pulled off a rapturous performance catering to their followers whom were uninhibited, unleashing passionate screams and singing along to the music…and dancing! In Portland’s typical “stand-and-nod” mark of approval, the audience’s reaction was quite a success.


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After the show, I went to check out The Kills’ afterparty at Dunes, where I heard they would be spinning records. I’m always interested in what my favorite artists are into and I had a feeling their music selection would be top shelf. The show was such a vampy energy suck. I didn’t leave the house until 1AM. Luckily, the weather was still warm and the scooter ride across town was reviving. Once I arrived at Dune’s discreet location, I finally realized what “Midnight Boom” was all about… It’s about being nocturnal and getting the party started after everyone else has retired for the evening. The bar’s atmosphere was dense with purple smoke from cigarettes and a smoke machine. Fancy, young hipsters were dancing to some incredible underground vibes I hadn’t heard before. The Kills were spinning records in the back, facing a mirror and dancing as they were filmed. I arrived alone, danced a bit and stood by the bar for the most part, just people watching. I did end up meeting Allison Mosshart at the bar but found myself extremely starstruck and couldn’t really translate the complete admiration and borderline obsession I have for her band into words. In such moments, when all else fails: talk about the weather.


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