Miike Snow and Esser
June 18, 2009
Better Than: Prom.
By the time Miike Snow
came on at nearly midnight last night, the walls of 330 Ritch
were sweating, and the dance floor was bumper-to-bumper with a solid wall of hip, well-dressed youngsters pressed against the stage. Popscene
may be the best place in the city for little bands to blow up, but it's clear that Miike Snow is quickly moving beyond the room-capacity of a little band. This became clearer still when the group hit its stride mid-set with its this-is-going-to-get-huge song, "Animal," on the new, self-titled Miike Snow album. Practically the whole room sang along.
Still, it's clear that Miike Snow is a new band lacking the clean live sound of veteran acts who have been playing together for years. It took the members a couple of songs to warm up, their big sound (drum machines + more drums + keyboards + piano + electric guitar = big sound) seeming to struggle at times with the small size of 330 Rich. The polished nature of Miike Snow's studio sound made any technical difficulties stand out more than usual. But by the time the lead singer took to the piano to belt out the mournful tune of "Sylvia," though, any bumps along the way had been forgotten.
The stage was packed with the six members of Miike Snow -- dressed
like a team of MVP's in matching shiny black jackets -- plus their
arsenal of electronics. They had so much equipment there was hardly
room for the performers to jump from one instrument to another, which
they did -- often -- proving that this is a band comprised of talented
musicians. Part of that talent comes from the crowd-pleasing know-how
of Miike Snow's ringleaders:
Swedish producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, who teamed up
and Avant to produce Brittany Spears' hit single "Toxic"
plus other tracks for Spears, Madonna, Kylie Minogue (among others),
and Andrew Wyatt, instrumentalist and producer for Downtown Records.
Knowing a little about this band's short history helps to understand why there is
so little banter on stage: at this point, they're still intently focused on smoothing out their sound. The crowd seemed happy enough just to be in the presence of music with a catchy beat. Young and eager to dance, audience members easily picked up on the energy of the band's dance tunes and mellowed out when they launched into a long, slow, electronics riff. The band's overall sound is a bit like Scissor Sisters without the ABBA -- a mix of pop-electronica with a little rock thrown in.
If the act was to get a cheesy yearbook award--which seems appropriate given the average age of the Popscene crowd and the clawing for the stage, the continuous camera flashes--it would have to be "Most Likely to Succeed." This is a band that is already too big for its venues, and will likely only get bigger.
Best hair of the night goes to the lead singer of the brit-pop opener, Esser
, who sported a sky-high pompadour that didn't budge for his entire set despite a lot of energetic head bobbing. Esser's songs were short, upbeat and catchy, his banter almost as minimal as Miike Snow's banter (and almost completely limited to: "This is a song called ____").
But it was also a scene that called for the bands to keep playing, with crowd members taking to the dance floor as much for the live acts as for the DJs between sets. Which is why last night's Popscene crowd wins the most coveted award of them all: Most Pop Spirit.