The line that stretched up the block was a sure sign that The Knife are no longer relegated to that category of obscure bands to name drop to impress your hipster friends. Tonight, after years of hearing about them and wanting to experience them live, Karin and Olof made their U.S. debut. It was packed, the anticipation was immense, the stage was set and the show was over in about 50-60 minutes.
- Pass This On
- The Captain
- We Share Our Mother’s Health
- You Make Me Like Charity
- Marble House
- Forest Families
- Silent Shout
- From Off To On
- Encore: Like a Pen
You know already the M.O. of The Knife and their live show -- it's not a concert, but more like performance art you can sometimes dance to. Like in their promo material, the brother and sister duo wear masks and outfits to make them look anonymous and androgynous. The point, as Karin pointed out in our interview, was that we should pay attention to the visuals and music and not what they are doing.
I look upon the night knowing that it's not going to be an involving affair where you feel one with the performer. With the front and rear projection and the obscured band members, it creates a certain disconnect with the artists. On the other, tonight's show was entertaining and interesting. The projections are the show with the music serving as a compliment to them. Karin and Olof are there pushing buttons, but I doubt they are doing anything major to manipulate the music. Olof was banging away on some electronic pads, but it seemed mysteriously out-of-sync with the music. Karin's vocals were live, going to her natural voice to change the pitch to make her sound masculine.
I'm sure those who have seen or will see them on their brief tour will remember the creepy heads that appeared on stage. As first, it was a human head singing along that turned into a skull. It's like the techno version of the great Oz. "I am the great and mighty Oz. Do not look behind the curtain. I order you to dance." On the right side of the stage, we had the singing heads of a monkey and lizard creatures.
Andreas Nilsson oversees the visual aspect of the performance. Those singing heads were a tad over the top, but some of his animation choices fitted the music perfectly. The best place to watch the show was the back, because the front screen served as a frame for what was on stage and shown behind it. Even if you thought that the show was missing a little more kick, you have to admit that the modern art aspect of the show was interesting and different.
As we all know, modern art makes me want to rock out. I would say that The Knife let themselves to get their dance on for a handful of tracks like Silent Shout, Like a Pen and You Make Me Like Charity. I was hoping Heartbeats would be done normally, but it was remixed to kind of sound like Nine Inch Nail's Closer. Whatever they did with it, it took away from the song's romanticism and made it sort of unsexy and dark.
Silent Shout was the highlight for me. The duo even let themselves cut loose, which gave the crowd the added incentive to dance around a bit. It inevitable that the crowd is going to respond to music that they get into, so I'm feeling a tug between that dance club aspect and the side that's more dark and introspective.
In all, I left with a positive feeling. It takes guts to hide the aspects we come to enjoy in live shows, and make it more about the visuals, than about the people pushing the buttons. I'm hoping with a few more albums under their belt, they can expand on their stage show and make it a little more engaging and accessible.
This was the place to be tonight. The guys from Stereogum, ProductShop NYC and Yeti were all in attendance as well. Yeah, it was one of those "calling all bloggers" happenings.
As for me, my prognosis is a torn ligament and dislocated knee cap. Yup, I screwed up my knee big time. I walked to the venue with no problem, but standing in place for a bit was uncomfortable. By the end, I was walking out with some discomfort. Thus, I bailed out seeing some CMJ shows and parties tonight. I just have to take it easy and keep the rocking down to a minimum.