All words: m.m. zonoozy — All photos: Mike Danko
Miike Snow invaded the 9:30 Club Saturday night for a Swede-pop space-boogie. The trio plus two took to the stage en masque amid a cloud of smoke and beaming stage lights for an eerie rendition of “Enter the Joker’s Liar.” The group quickly abandoned the “Eyes Wide Shut” to drum up a pronounced performance of “The Wave” before blasting through an impressively energetic and seamless set in support of their new album, “Happy to You.”
A trilogy of alien-themed music videos prefaced Mike Snow’s sophomore release, no doubt influencing the space invasion concert set-up and the current feats of intergalactic-themed journalistic creativity. The concert’s motif was exaggerated by throwing the keys, drums, floor toms, and more earthly instruments around a 9-foot by 9-foot space-aged synthesizer (and more!) dubiously named, “The Blob.” The production team behind Snow, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, took turns flipping switches on the machine’s control panel during a high-energy rendition of the ABBA-channeling “Paddling Out,” clearly steering us deeper into the black hole of melancholy house-pop.
In the meanwhile, Wyatt’s contribution was impressive – maneuvering his voice cleanly along the heavily nuanced production of team Karlsson-Winnberg. Although Miike Snow is arguably a producer-driven act, Wyatt’s vocals convey an even honesty that rounds out the psychadelia. His almost wooly stage presence also suits the bands mission – neither dedicated to high-energy nor minimal, yet still orchestrated and rhythmic.
That niche is a surprising destination for this sum-of-parts. Formed in 2007, Mr. Snow is composed of Swedish production duo Bloodshy & Avant and American vocalist/producer Andrew Wyatt. The threesome garnered mainstream fandom in 2009 with their breakout single, “Animal,” off of their eponymous debut album. The
band followed up with another pair of remix-friendly singles, “Silvia” and “Black and Blue,” before embarking on a relentless touring schedule. Judging by the extensive, Top-40’s heavy curriculum vitae of Bloodshy & Avant (Britney Spears, Madonna, Kylie Minogue), many were surprised by their relatively tamed, eclectic and seemingly “indie” approach to Miike Snow.
Now two albums deep, the Swedes have made sense of an impressive library of drum-heavy, string-led, synthy house-pop. “Happy to You” seems to be a more patient effort – still percussion-driven and piano-heavy, but much more of a whole album than their first. On “Happy,” they even stretched beyond their previous soundscape with “God Help this Divorce” and “Black Tin Box.” Although their first two singles, “Paddling Out” and “Devil’s Work” were what was expected from Miike Snow, they satisfied that expectation in the very best way.
What stood out most during the show was the group’s emphasis on catching a groove. The five-piece continuously built up their drops, showcased solos, switched instruments, and occasionally strummed an electric harp. The band perhaps flexed the most muscle riding out the tail of an energetic “Silvia” for an extra couple breaks over then dim-lit stage. That Blob seemingly earned its keep. A two-track encore concluded with breakout single “Animal,” letting a sold-out crowd get one final escape before the houselights sent us all back to Earth.