Eclectic lineups are always a crap shoot: sometimes bands can get exposure to a whole new audience and win over new fans. Other times, that new audience just wants them off the stage. The latter was unfortunately the case for electronic glam-rockers Kill Hannah, playing at Pop’s in Sauget, IL this month, just before the hardcore electronic idiot-rock of Mindless Self Indulgence.
Kill Hannah, from Chicago, made a grand rock-show entrance with “Boys and Girls,” the big sound and light show showing them off as the major label stars that they’re becoming. Lead singer Mat Devine looked more like the Cure’s Robert Smith than ever, with high, 1980s Flock-of-Seagulls-like hair, fingerless gloves and scarves tied around his throat and wrists.
It’s clear they were not bullshitting when they told us that Mat is singing stronger and with more of a rock sound, thanks to their producer from the new album, Johnny K [Disturbed]. While we won’t say the trademark, breathy soft vocals of Kill Hannah are gone, Mat’s clearly moved into a more masculine, powerful, rock and roll phase--although the sound at Pop’s unfortunately muddied it up at times. Crowd-pleasing tracks included “Lips like Morphine” (which really launched its popularity on MySpace) from the soon-to-be-released album, Until There’s Nothing Left of Us [Atlantic], and “From Now On.” A little bit of body-surfing among this mostly MSI crowd picked up the mood, and soon, Mat stripped down to a T-shirt bearing the Queen’s crown, picked up a guitar himself. The band launched into “Race the Dream” with its familiar hook, “They can’t tear us apart” --but suddenly, it seemed like this ugly gathering of concertgoers wanted to do just that.
The impatient MSI crowd began to boo by the fourth or fifth song, to which Mat obliged with a sweet, “Fuck you, douche bag.” Then he said, “We’ve got three more songs. This is for everyone who knows who we are, and how close we are to them. This is called, ‘Welcome to Chicago, Motherfucker.’ It’s for the fat virgin over there…” He motioned to one of the wet blankets. The band plowed through a couple more tunes, including their great cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” but this crowd was not to be pleased, and the hostile tension against the band showed through no fault of their own.
Anyone who’s listened to Kill Hannah’s lyrics knows that this band has always been, not only a supportive fan of the underdog, but the underdog himself. And clearly, this night hit a nerve and took Mat back to old times.
“It’s time for one more song,” he said, before adding against the boos, “Shut up you fat assholes. It’s like in high school—I see a whole lot of people having fun in the mosh pit, and I see guys on the side trying to wreck it for everyone. Fat, ugly virgins playing Dungeons and Dragons. You can meet us by the t-shirts, motherfuckers. I’ll be more than happy to kick yer ass.” They closed with their biggest hit to date, “Kennedy,” which, despite the antagonism and evening gone awry, displayed some excessively cool guitar effects to replace the girl’s giggle on the recorded version. It was a tiny, yet perfect example of the savage sonic talent and power of this band when they’re allowed to let loose in the right habitat.
MSI took over the night shortly after, getting the crowd, most overweight and over-pierced, or else looking like an extra from a Marilyn Manson video, pumped and moshing. “It’s such a shame we’ll never be on MTV!” joked their “Art Fag” lead singer, Little Jimmy Urine in a shirt that proclaimed “Shit Fuck Pee” [or something like that]. What can be said about an MSI show? It will never disappoint its fans.
Openers Tub Ring, also from Chicago, made a big splash with a stage show that was not to be forgotten. Their dynamic frontman looked like a bad guy from a 70s TV cop show as the band ground out mostly forgettable electronic punk rock. While it’s true this stage show didn’t compel us to pick up a CD, we would certainly go back and see them again, if only for their hilarious tribute to the international ‘RAWK!’ sign.
See Kill Hannah as they were meant to be seen: at Lollapalooza, August 5th in Grant Park, Chicago Illinois. …we’ll be there!