BY DAVID J. NICOLAS
Last Night: The Kills, the Horrors at the Glass House in Pomona; May 21, 2009. View a slideshow of photos by Chad Sengstock here.
I've been to a lot of shows in my life, but I've never seen a female singer stalk and proceed to try and kill her prey. At least that's what it appeared Kills singer Alison "VV" Mosshart did to Josh Third of the Horrors during their final song at the Glass House last night.
Both bands have released records this year, and I was seeing both live for the first time. And I was excited to be in the hippest little venue in Southern California, one of my faves. The last time I went to the Glass House, I saw Long Island hardcore/screamo band Glassjaw perform during their short west coast tour. The show was sold out, and I stood front and center with my arm over some guy's shoulder and with someone's elbow resting on my head. This time, I decided to stand in the back.
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All I knew about the Horrors' sound was from a track I heard in a San Francisco club a couple of years ago. I also knew that they enjoy wearing lots and lots of black. So I wasn't surprised when Farris Rotter, the tall and lanky frontman, hobbled on stage in a black argyle shirt draped by an oversized black trench coat. He looked angry and sounded furious. The music was more frenzied and hypnotizing than what I remembered, and the hazy keyboard and monotonous bass lines made me feel like I was in a horror film. Rotter was a marvel on stage, thrusting his arms to signal a crash cymbal here or a guitar lick there. At one point before a song, the band had to wait two minutes as he spun in a circle.
After a brief intermission at the bar next door, I came back to a packed room. The raised standing area was filled with anxious kids, their arms hanging off the bar. When the Kills finally came out, lighters sparked and smoke bloomed into the air. Their set officially began. The Kills played plenty of tracks from their latest, Midnight Bloom. Their set seemed to go on nonstop with Jamie Hince's feverish guitar work that paired perfectly with VV's strong croon. The Kills' dynamic sound made you think twice about how many people were actually onstage. Someone kept asking, "Are there three people in the band?" The third was the Kill's trusty drum machine that kept everyone dancing. Even the older bearded man next to me who held his hair with an American flag bandana was getting down with the Kills garage rock sound.
The Kills also knew how to slow it down and they played an unexpected yet amazing rendition of Patsy Cline's "Crazy."
After a few cigarettes, the Kills came back for an encore, and they brought the Horrors back with them. VV was thrashing about and whipping her jet black hair around and away from her face to sing into the mike. Soon she found Horrors guitarist Third and started circling him like a snake near its prey. He was strumming, she was staring, and eventually VV made the first move. Direct hit. And then another. Everyone around me looked at each other and their confused glances confirmed that, yes, the two seemed to be repeatedly head butting each other. Next thing we knew, VV climbed Third's amp sat on his shoulders, slumped over with her hair covering her face. I waited to hear a booming voice, but nothing came out.