Kaiser Chiefs with Ok Go and Amusement Parks on Fire (Wednesday, June 1st, 2005, First Avenue, Minneapolis)
By Maura McAndrew
Though it didn’t blow my mind, the Kaiser Chiefs show met my expectations. I bought their album a couple months ago, a time when every NME-toting Bripster wanna-be was singing their praises. With Pete Doherty no longer in danger of becoming the next Sid Vicious, what was the Britpop-loving public to focus on? They needed a new band to compare to The Jam, The Kinks, and The Clash. So they picked Kaiser Chiefs. And why not? Their debut, Employment, is fast paced, tight, and melodic, and their stage presence is infused with Jagger-esque strutting and Bowie-rotic posturing. As I set out to review this, my first show for howwastheshow.com, I expected it to be fun, and it was.
The night started with Nottingham’s little-known Amusement Parks on Fire (David de Young’s new favorite band, which he reviews here), who delivered an introverted, feedback-heavy set. Chicago power-poppers Ok Go played next, and though their playful presence got the crowd going, it seemed to me at odds with the Kaiser Chiefs too-cool-for-school approach. Ok Go pounded out exuberant, fun pop songs with good-natured glee as wiry singer Damian Kulash bounded around the stage in a mismatched shirt and tie. The songs, though catchy, were also complex, with interesting backing vocals and an organ fleshing them out.
Watching Ok Go, immediately the cringe-worthy label “geek-chic” came to my mind. In terms of The O.C., they were definitely the Seth Cohen of the night. In the end though, their set turned out to be damn entertaining. After a broken string led into an impromptu Les Mis sing along by singer and guitarist, the band closed with a fully choreographed lip-sync. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed.
Though Ok Go’s high-energy antics were much appreciated, they served as a poor lead in for the fuck-it bravado of Kaiser Chiefs. As the curtain finally rose on the band, the small audience cheered as Wilson moon walked onstage to the opening strains of Employment’s most Oasis-like piece of nonsense, “Na Na Na Na Naa.” All members decked out in the neo-rock uniform of funky shirts, jackets, and skinny ties, the band moved quickly through its small catalog with incredible energy. This can mostly be attributed to Wilson, who tore around the stage slamming his tambourine, cowbell, or whatever he happened to be playing at any particular moment.
An early highlight was “Saturday Night,” one of the best
songs on Employment, and Wilson sang the words most of us in the audience
were thinking, “I wanna be like those guys/I wanna wear my clothes
tight.” It was slightly disappointing however, that this slick party
anthem wasn’t saved until later in the set. Wouldn’t it be
great if the evening had ended with the lines, “Cut through the
city on a Saturday night/Cos you and me are on the edge of a knife”?
Leaving First Ave on Wednesday night, I was satisfied, but still comfortable
in my position that Kaiser Chiefs, though they make a tremendous effort,
are not the next big anything. They are simply a hardworking, charismatic
band that will hopefully grow out of the shadow of their influences to
become something unique.