The Kills – State Theatre, Portland, Maine, September 20, 2016

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I recall hearing the name and seeing the albums, but I had never actually seen or even heard The Kills before taking this assignment.

The line was pretty long going into the show, which was a good sign as the prior two shows I saw at this venue had a weak attendance, and the venue filled up pretty quickly. The crowd was a good mix of age and gender, which is exactly what a band wants to see – it tells them that their music crosses those age barriers that so many other bands never breach, and it also proves that not only do the girls like it but so do the guys. I’ve taken in many shows where the audience is made up mostly by teenage girls (All Time Low) and the complete opposite where the crowd is primarily 30+ guys (Slayer). I prefer a good mix, and I would think so do the bands.

Opening the show was a three-piece band from LA called L.A. Witch. L.A. Witch were really good and captured the hearts of many fans in attendance. Their music reminded me a bit of Hole or L7 with a bit of a punk vibe but not enough to call them a punk band. They were just straight ahead good ol’ rock n’ roll with that punk edge that makes you take notice. It also doesn’t hurt that they are three attractive young ladies, that alone will make you stand up and take notice, but there is some real talent behind the looks and that makes this act worth seeing. After their set I saw quite a few L.A.Witch t-shirts being sold from the merch booth, so I wasn’t the only one who felt this band worthy.

I must once again give it up to the State Theatre light guy who once again knocked it out of the park with some great lighting for these ladies. The show really looked great and makes my life as a photographer so much easier. …I only wish he had stayed on the lighting board for The Kills.

The Kills were up next, and from the first song I could tell why there was a line getting in. These guys were incredible. Allison Mosshart, on guitar and lead vocals, will go down as one of the most beautiful guitar players I have ever had the privilege of photographing, and her stage presence is second to none, she truly is engaging and draws you in as she dances around the stage. Her cohort, Jamie Hince, on guitar and vocals, was also quite entertaining and his guitar style was quite unique, as is their music. Behind Mosshart and Hince, in the shadows, were a drummer and keyboard player who also jumped on guitar now and then.

I hate to compare one band to another yet I feel when I write a review I almost have to do so in order to give the reader unfamiliar with the band’s sound some point of reference. So with that said, The Kills reminded me of Bong Water, The White Stripes, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Iggy and the Stooges all wrapped into one. They truly had a unique sound that is hard to categorize but really good.

I was so impressed by The Kills that on the way out I actually purchased a T-shirt and a 7” single, and not only that – I hung out for nearly an hour and a half after the show with some loyal fans in order to have the pair sign my 7”single. This is something I used to do a lot in my youth but rarely do anymore, but this act was too good not to have something signed. Once they did make it out to the crowd eagerly waiting, they were very gracious with their fans and posed for photos with them as well as signed everything handed them. They are a true class act.

The Kills set list

Heart of a Dog – U.R.A. Fever – Kissy Kissy – Hard Habit to Break – Impossible Tracks – Black Balloon – Doing it to Death – Baby Says – Dead Road 7 – Tape Song – Echo Home – Whirling Eye – Pots & Pans – Monkey 23

Encore: That Love – Siberian Nights – Last Day of Magic – Fried My Little Brains

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