Black Kids Opening for Cut/Copy

Cut/Copy + Black Kids at Neumo’s | 30 April 2008

I used to think that any band that employed female back up singers was lame by default. It seemed to be quite a fashionable thing to do back in the mid 90’s, Electronic’s second album is an egregious example of this. I could never understand why a band would want to ruin their songs with session singers going all Maria Carey over top of it. Black Kids kind of have something like this going on in some of their songs with their two keyboard players singing backup. The thing is, it sounds so good. Maybe I should go back and listen to that Electronic record, or maybe Black Kids just know how to use the female backing vocal. It’s this kind of flying in the face of fashion that makes this band endearing to me.

You’ve probably heard about the hype surrounding the Black Kids. How last fall just before the CMJ Music Marathon, Pitchfork gave a very glowing review to their four song demo. A frenzy of music bloggers ensued and soon thereafter the backlash started. They played a couple shows at CMJ to less than glowing reviews and then things kind of quieted down. They have been quietly playing live and apparently getting much better if last night’s show is any indication. They’ve also recently completed recording an album with ex-Suede Guitarist Bernard Butler (deja vu) which sees the light of day 22 July (if not before then).

If the reviews from last fall’s CMJ are true, then I would say these guys have greatly improved. They were loose, looking totally comfortable with their next big thing status. The main thing I noticed about their sound was the bass lines that just jumped out and grabbed you. Maybe it was because I was standing directly in front of him, but this guy was pulling out funk riffs song after song, pillaging the back catalogs of Chic and Rockwell. It worked with most of the songs, only a few could have used a little less funk. The Black Kids sound is a curious amalgam of the disco era, tempered with an English pop sensibility that reminds me a bit of Ian Dury and Blockheads. Through in a bit of Terry Hall (Specials/Fun Boy Three/Colour Field), Prefab Sprout, or Bob Smith of the Cure, which comes across in the heartfelt vocals and guitar and you’ve got an idea of the uniqueness of these Jackonsville, Florida band.

Everyone went nuts for I’m Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend how to Dance With You, but my favorite song from their set was Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo) which is slated to show up on the album, it contained the infectious funk flavored bass line, a guitar freak-out and the female backing vocals that were kind done as a cheer and ended with and Go-Team-esque chant that turned me into a Black Kids believer.

myspace: Black Kids

mp3: Ian Dury and the Blockheads – Reasons to be Cheerful, Pt. 3 (from Sex and Drugs and Rock & Roll)

mp3: The Colour Field – Pushing Up the Daisies (from Virgins and Philistines)

As for the Australians Cut/Copy, who everyone at this sold out show were there to see, I wasn’t as impressed. Maybe it’s because I lived through, and vividly remember the first round of synth-pop back in the 80’s, but these guys just seem like Depeche Mode or OMD knock offs. It’s not bad for what it is, but it’s actually pretty boring to watch. They had a drummer, but he didn’t do much drumming, tapping on a cymbal here using the kick pedal there, but mostly letting the pre-programming do the work. There were guitars involved, and when they used them they sounded good, but it wasn’t enough to make me a fan. Not that it really matters because the place was going ape-shit for these guys. Arms in the air, fist pumping, and the floor bouncing from all the dancing and merrymaking. Most everyone was having a blast to their 80’s synth resurrection, except for the tiny minority of me.


  1. bill p · May 3, 2008

    It was really only Black Kids’ first show that was universally-panned. The show I saw them at was actually pretty good.

    As for Cut Copy, I’m with you 100% about their live show… they suck. All the people who who say they’re great are dancing, not actually watching them perform. Which is fair enough, but in that case I’d rather see them DJ (they are great DJs).

    By the way, do they have the old guy hired to be Peter Hook on this tour who only comes out for some songs?

  2. Toby · May 3, 2008

    No Peter Hook impersonators. On another note, I’ve seen a lot of comparisons of their sound to New Order, but I don’t here it. No melodic bass lines or simple catchy guitar, lots of synths though.

  3. bill p · May 3, 2008

    for the SXSW gigs (and the nyc one right after) they had some grizzled looking dude, longish hair, leather jacket, leather tan, probably 35 but looking way older… who would come up and play bass on certain songs. he had it slung around his thighs… it was like he was a PH impersonator.

    “Hearts on Fire” has that New Order bassline.

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