Talib Kweli Epic Nightclub, May 9 By Jeff Shaw
Publicity photo of Talib Kweli.
Thoughtful MC Talib Kweli once reflected on wax how difficult it was to write songs to boom in the club while remaining conscious of people that suffer. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Brooklyn rapper's show at Epic Nightclub included a freestyle name-check of Sean Bell and lyrical references to Mumia Abu-Jamal along with bangin' beats.
Kweli ably intersperses activist sentiments into a party atmosphere without coming off preachy. Paying tribute to both Boogie Down Productions and Bob Marley -- two who knew a thing or three about making music both political and powerful -- Talib kept heads nodding. Sadly, turnout was sparse. Though those in attendance were, to a human, ready to get live, the club looked to be just slightly over half-capacity.
Additional note to Epic: if you're hosting a hip-hop show, having more than one audible mic is advisable -- even if most of the crowd came to see one MC. During one of the opening sets, Long D.O.E. Records artists were constantly forced to pass the mic, interrupting the rapid-fire flows of TNT's Hennessy among others.
International Espionage!, Action vs. Action, and the Hasbeens 400 Bar, May 10 By Andrea Myers
The hooks were out in full force Saturday night. All three bands on the bill at the 400 specialized in crafting catchy, fun-loving rock songs. Openers the Hasbeen were the most straightforward rock band of the evening, and their chunky guitar riffs and powerful vocal harmonies were a great warm-up for the rest of the night.
Though headliners International Espionage! were fun to watch -- the three members dress in black spandex spy suits, complete with masks and red, glowing headband lights, and their stage lights strobe and jut out at severe angles -- the most engaging act of the night was by far Action vs. Action. Lead singer Ben Krueger is an unlikely pop star, all beard and brawn and wielding an inexplicable broomstick that he pretends to play like a guitar, and his voice is downright angelic. Up-tempo songs took on a pop punk edge, while more sentimental and low-key songs like "Hustler," off their 2004 EP Solid State Stereo, neared rock ballad transcendence.
Action vs. Action have a new album due out July 12, produced by Darren Jackson, whose band the Hopefuls will play the AvA CD release party at the Triple Rock.
The Kills Triple Rock, May 11 By Andrea Myers
The Kills are a sexy band. Singer VV (Alison Mosshart) prowls around the stage like a hungry predator, scanning the audience with a deadpan demon stare that is at once sultry and terrifying, while her bandmate Hotel (Jamie Hince) coolly strums his guitar and mans the drum machine. True rock stars like VV and Hotel have become a rare occurrence in the age of indie rock meekness, and it was refreshing to see the duo take hold of the stage and command the audience.
The Kills: photo by Emily Utne. More in the slideshow.
The duo played a little over an hour and covered material from all three of their studio albums, with highlights that included "Cat Claw," "Love is a Deserter" and "Pull A U." The back of the Triple Rock stage was swathed in a huge white sheet, on which they projected footage of old rock documentaries and concert videos starring bands like the Rolling Stones, Patti Smith and the Ramones, as if paying homage to their influences as they pounded through a set of booming, yelping rock.