All words: William Alberque
All photos: Stephanie Breijo (minus the 2005 nostalgia ones)
I have a soft spot for the Kaiser Chiefs. I fell massively in love with the Kaiser Chiefs based on their first two singles, before they got their big break – “I Predict a Riot” and “Oh My God.” Then I got to see them at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in January 2005 (please see super authentic 2005 photos from William’s point-and-shoot below-ed).
The subsequent debut album, Employment, was just about perfect, and a gift to DJs like me. The second album, Yours Truly, Angry Mob, sold more, but didn’t hit the same heights. I lost track of them after seeing them in Vienna in 2007; I didn’t have high hopes.
I was feeling low – run-down and going through the motions of reviewing a show that looked far more promising three months out on the show list than the night of. I came in right as opener Walk the Moon was finishing up. They played extremely high energy indie pop, the kind that would have gone over a storm in 2005, but still good enough for me to pick up their EP. I machete my way through the sold out crowd to my customary place near the bar, plenty of space to take notes, and waited.
As usual, the between-bands DJing was excellent, with “This Charming Man, “Wrecking Ball,” and “I Am the Resurrection” further buoying my mood. The backdrop was a massive cloth with the “Future Is Medieval” logo. The lights go down, and Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” intro plays while the band takes the stage. The stabbing keys of “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” immediately whip the crowd into a frenzy.
Ricky Wilson looks older, but recognizably the same. He starts off a bit low-energy, practiced; making poses, playing with the mic stand. “Never Miss a Beat” rings out next, sounding a bit like Empires and Dance-era Simple Minds, and “Little Shocks” follows. The latter sees Ricky come to life, but the song itself leaves me cold. “Everything Is Average Nowadays” comes next, restoring my hopes for the set. He walks out as far as he can into the crowd – is he standing on an audience member? – and doesn’t move, but I quite like this one (not quite as much as the Little Ones cover, though).
Nick Hodgson sings the next one, “Good Days Bad Days,” adding his excellent vocals from the drummer’s seat, with an engaging electro rhythm. “Modern Way” is simply brilliant, with Peanut singing the intro before Ricky comes storming in. The crowd is mad for it; and Ricky asks the crowd to indulge him and pretend that they love the next song, too – a new one, called “On the Run.” Ricky uses an old carbon broadcast microphone on the intro before switching to the regular mic. Ricky draws from all of his festival experience to keep the crowd interested. “Ruby,” with its infuriating repetitiveness, does the trick, prompting a mass sing-along.
“The Angry Mob” comes next, and it pleases the crowd – but Ricky’s insertion of the word Washington feels inauthentic. I don’t have much time to react, since the adrenaline rush of “Na Na Na Na Naa” wipes that memory out. Ricky throws his tambourine into the audience, but I dislike the outro. “Starts with Nothing” is similarly disappointing. “I Predict a Riot” is incandescent, throwing the audience back into their frenzy, before foundering on new tack, “Kinda Girl You Are.” It’s fast, and Ricky plays it with great insistence, but it’s just a bit boring, especially coming after Riot. Ricky announces the next song as a new one – I think he says, “On the Road,” but I can’t be sure (damn handwriting).
They go off for a blessedly short encore, coming out again to play “Love’s Not a Competition (But I’m Winning).” There’s not even a question what the final song of the night will be – and “Oh My God” sounds surprisingly great considering how much I’ve ignored the Chiefs version since Mark Ronson and Lily Allen covered it. The audience is left demanding more, but the band is done – they take the applause and adulation, and bid Washington adieu. I’m not sure I’d bother to see them again, but I’m glad I came.