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Saturday night I did end up going to see Kinski at the Crocodile Cafe. A group called Unnatural Helpers opened, and IQU (pronounced "eek-oo") held the middle slot.

I hadn't actually eaten dinner yet, so I sat and had a hamburger through most of Unnatural Helpers' set. I could hear them just fine though, and they sounded like a typical hardcore punk band to me, down to each song being no more than two minutes long. To their advantage, at least they had a lead singer, not a lead screamer. However, they managed to fully capture my attention at the end of their set. They announced that they were going to perform a new song that they'd just written the night before, and then broke into a Kinski song, "The Wives of Artie Shaw" (from their latest album Alpine Static). This was a bold move, and particularly amusing when they got to the part of the song featuring wild flute-playing and all the band members sang/hooted a rendition of that part. As I'd finished dinner, they were able to get me out of my set to actually go watch them play, so I discovered they're a five-piece with two percussionists (at least on that last song).

IQU were a band I'd heard of before, and when a song by them played on KEXP the day before, I said "oh, these guys are IQU!" (After diligent searching of their great playlist archives, I found that the song in question is "Flower and Moon" from Chotto Matte A Moment!.) I'd heard that song several times before on KEXP and it'd caught my attention enough that I'd recognized it, but I'd never been interested enough to write down the band name. Well, they certainly held my interest that night. The band is the duo of Kento Oiwa and Michiko Swiggs, though they included a live drummer (who was called "Chavez!" by someone in the audience). IQU plays electronic pop with a healthy dose of breakbeat (impressively drummed by Chavez) and Eurodisco. Michiko played three keyboard/organ synths and sang on a couple songs (using a vocoder for one), while Kento played an eclectic mix of theremin, guitar, turntable, and more synth - generally all in the same song. Kento is a virtuoso on theremin, and the instrument took the role of "lead vocals" on a few songs, including a cover of "Loving You" that (my sister) Andrea would've loved.

There's not much that I haven't already said about Kinski; they do an amazingly powerful live set of hard-driving art rock, and I love them. One thing I noted this time was the quietly efficient way they all came on stage and started setting up their gear before their set, it struck me as very professional-looking. Another thing was how much broken hair was hanging off the bow that the bassist uses occasionally on her guitar, and I kept wondering how often she has to have it rehaired but didn't have a chance to ask after their set. I did think that I'd like to hear a few more of their older songs in concert, though I also realized that I only had their previous album and they have a couple others, so I wouldn't necessarily know if they played any older material. Still, they're always great in concert, and I know I can rely on them whenever I want to go see a good show.

I bought IQU's newest album, Sun Q, and also an older Kinski album, Be Gentle With The Warm Turtle, getting the UK version which has an extra track. I haven't listened all the way through either album yet, but both have good stuff on them.

I may catch one more show in November, as The Fading Collection are playing Chop Suey next Monday. As for December, Echo and the Bunneymen (!) are playing Neumos on Saturday the 3rd; with December being busy in general and also with my plan to go back East for Christmas, this is likely the best show for me to catch. I'm just wondering whether it'll sell out, perhaps I ought to buy a ticket in advance.


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The List: June 2011

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