All words by Farrah Skeiky
All photos by Shauna Alexander
BLAST OFF! Kasabian is going to find you, kill you, and eat you. And you are going to love it.
That was the overpowering mood of Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club. And it makes sense—this is Kasabian’s first time back in the states in five years. So the question on everyone’s mind isn’t “Are they going to kill it?” but rather, “How are they going to kill it?” I found myself in the same mindset entertaining hypotheticals, but at the same time knowing that no matter what happened, we were all in for a treat.
The first band to take the stage is Hacienda from San Antonio, Texas. As members took the stage I couldn’t help but feel that I was about to see the southern rock-influenced version of many garage bands my friends had tried to start back in Seattle, fronted in part by a grungy surfer boy bassist straight out of any teen dream. Southern garage was correct, but soon, their confident introduction gave way to something more glaringly obnoxious. First, their big sound was a jumble of cranking up the volume on all instruments until their roles became indiscernible. Second, their keyboard overpowered each song and resided somewhere between baseball field organ and faux gospel church synth, and not in an endearing way. The standouts of the set, “Don’t Turn Out the Light” and “You Just Don’t Know,” come from Hacienda’s new album and were far more enjoyable and discernable from everything else they played (perhaps their new producer, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, has something to do with this).
But enough on that! Don’t you remember what we all came here for?
Kasabian are taking the strobe-filled stage to a synth intro of “Days are Forgotten,” and it is clear that the crowd has been missing them. And when they launch into it, it’s tremendous. The foreboding bass is coupled with echoing vocals and an attitude from singer Tom Meighan that read, “we don’t care about impressing you, but you’d better be impressed.” And from the get-go, Tom has astounding control of the crowd, considering the usual apathy of 9:30-goers. “Shoot the Runner” is next, and it’s as sexy as ever. Most every girl agrees and is dancing accordingly. Pulsing bass drives this one and vocals have a hint of faintness.
Another somewhat-extended, down-tempo intro reveals itself, and by the time I recognize its few and floating lyrics as—BLAST OFF! Yes! VELOCIRAPTOR! This one is serious, exclamation point and all. There is a precision and aggression in all the instrumentation and a floating yet daggering quality to the vocals that make you forget the silly nature of the song itself. Tom shifts over to roaring and growling and it’s well received. “Underdog” starts off and the entire club loses it. The keyboard synth shakes through you and the drums resound enormously. Serge Pizzorno and Tom are almost bromantic, singing at each other instead of the crowd for long stretches. The energy carries over into “Where Did All the Love Go?” which is impossible to stand still for.
“I.D.” is next and it’s nearly a dance break for the crowd, maybe even the band, to catch their breath. “Bow down to the king!” Tom yells. He is obliged. The participation continues into a “good old-fashioned sing along” (“Thick as Thieves”), in which stripped down sound holds no one back. And as it dies down, something strange (ha!) happens as you hear Tom croon, “When you’re strange, faces come out of the rain, when you’re strange.” Anyone who recognizes it is losing it, absolutely losing it. Tom disappears and Serge’s hair takes over for “Take Aim,” and his higher-register vocals are a welcome change.
The memorable first notes of “Club Foot” leave no souls standing still, and once again, instrumentation is aggressive, lyrics float, and the keys cloud around you. More lyrical gems emerge (this time, “So messed up, I want you here…”) and “Re-Wired” follows with very psychedelic lights and driving beats which continue into “I Hear Voices.”
And then a sharp turn into “Stuntman,” featuring a duo of growling and polished vocals in the chorus that riles everyone up. Kasabian gets clapping hands and balled fists before they even have to ask (for the most part; this is still 9:30). Excitement resonates and builds up to “L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever),” the last of the set. Heavy guitar featured in this one, and lots of weirdly adorable band chemistry too. Serge yells for the room to sing along again to close out the set, and is just barely successful—apparently the 9:30 crowd is fourth best so far on the tour (Out of five shows. Is anyone surprised? No? Good.) but those who do sing along pour their hearts into it.
Everyone knows an encore is coming, and the song selection is great: “Switchblade Smiles,” “Vlad the Impaler,” and “Fire.” The first immerses the room into frazzling strobes and builds tremendous anticipation for the big drop. The intensity doesn’t dare die down for “Vlad the Impaler” and in fact more people are dancing for this one. The only thing that would induce more excitement would be a Noel Fielding appearance. Everyone’s in love. “Fire” closes things out, and after such a heart-racing set. It’s strangely lovely; it’s catchy as all hell, it’s- going into an extended mix? What is this? Do they not want to leave? That’s fine; we don’t want them to!