Kill Hannah: Would You Expect Any Less?
J. Gordon
4/13/2006 9:52:26 PM

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the April 3rd Kill Hannah show at St. Louis’ Creepy Crawl would be a great gig. First off, we’ve never seen a bad Kill Hannah show in the decade or so that Night Times has been following them. And seriously, who doesn’t get off on electronic glam-rock with passion and heart?

Doing a warm-up tour of 2 ½ months prior to the release of their new Atlantic Records album [name tba], Kill Hannah was well-matched with compatriots, Clear Static and Shiny Toy Guns, two fine bands with a nice balance of retro and futuristic components to complement their headliner. While the show was supposed to be one of the first performances at the new Creepy Crawl location, the digs apparently weren’t ready in time, so this show was left to close the doors in high-style.

Always theatrical, Kill Hannah took the stage in a fog of dry ice, opening with their new tune, “Lips Like Morphine.” [ed.--You can hear a few of the new tracks now on their MySpace page]

Over these years, lead singer Mat Devine has grown from the waifish sweet-boy with the breathy voice, into a guy who clearly owns his music, is in control of his art, and flaunts his power over the crowd. In a T-shirt that read, “Dead Boys,” and some artful, bright colors dyed into his hair on one side of his head, Mat’s got the drama of pale skin and dark features, the sparkle of mischief, and a vulnerability about him all at once. He’s a good-looking frontman in an Edward Scissorhands-ish sort of way. And the crowd was eating it up.

The rest of the guys were all in fine form, too. In addition to great musicianship, Jonnie (Jonathan Radtke) and Dan (Wiese) showed off their competent backing vocals for songs like “Ten Minutes With You.” But lest the band depend entirely upon themselves to entertain, Mat summoned help from “the St. Louis Kill Hannah Singers” in the audience, for a few tracks including “It’s Raining All The Time.” Now, normally one might gag at cheesy suggestions for audience participation, but with some of Kill Hannah’s almost childlike choruses, it works. And on this night at the Creepy Crawl, it worked well.

Never quite fitting in squarely into one genre, this audience was both dancing and moshing; hardcore and groovy. But this night seemed to surprise even Mat, who said, “That’s very interesting. A moshpit for the ballad. Very cool. But I think you guys have it backwards. I wonder what you do for Danzig?” The band then launched into another noteworthy new song, “Love You to Death.”

By now, the moshpit grew to hurricane proportions, dominated by a single guy in a pink shirt who was truly as wide as he was tall (and he was tall). Mat appeared to be concerned over some of his smaller audience members. “Be careful out there, by the way. I think some of you are out for blood tonight. In case you wanna join the combat with Mr. Pink Shirt, this one is called ‘From Now On’...” The place went crazy, and all were consumed in the pit by the energy and the music.

Next, Mat braved the pit himself, springing himself into the group to sing another new one on the crowd that we think was called, “Unwanted.” He praised the other two bands, saying, “Next year, you’re gonna see all three of us on TV all the time. Do you know how lucky you are to see all three of us on the same stage?”

The venue was hot, both literally and figuratively. Mat threw his water bottle across the audience in front, approximately the same time the rear of the group was sprayed by someone’s beer. Ah well. It wouldn’t be the Creepy Crawl if that didn’t happen at least once in an evening. And despite the stickiness, the cool was welcomed by all.

“So here we are at the very end,” said Mat, taunting his devotees. “The very, very end. It went way too fast. Thank you for sharing this Monday night in St. Louis, tearing it up end to end.” And then, of course, their hit “Kennedy” brought on a mass, collective orgasm.

Now, it was almost midnight on a school and work night. Should Creepy Crawl expect an encore? You bet. “You’re out this late on a weeknight. No one’s really gonna care if you’re out a little later…” Mat teased. And then, the closer to end all closers: a cover of “Rebel Yell” that would make even the King of the Punk Sneer, Billy Idol, himself, proud. The energy of this show was flat-out the best thing to hit St. Louis in a long time, and a hell of a great way to kick us out of the winter blues. But then, from Kill Hannah, would we expect any less?


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