Over Labor Day weekend, two bands played two distinctly different shows, but both captured the soul of rock and roll.
There is a spectrum to any genre of music, but maybe none moreso than rock and roll. The title encapsulates images of anything from leather-clad, long-haired rockers bordering on the punk scene to well-groomed, well-dressed bands playing music suitable for Top 40 radio. It’s the teenagers on the garage banging out Nirvana covers, and it’s the former actual members of Nirvana playing music in front of thousands of people. It’s both the band hustling and paying its dues, and the established vets who have perfected every single note of their live show. Yet, all of it is distinctly rock and roll.
And, all of it was on display the past two nights in San Diego, with The Young Wild playing Saturday at the Music Box, while The Kills played Sunday at the Observatory North Park.
The Young Wild are quickly becoming San Diego’s favorite local band, working hard to make it and in the process of paying their dues. They work hard, and it shows. The core lineup led by singer/guitarist Bryan, bassist Gareth, and drummer Brandon form the core of the band, and have a somewhat-rotating lineup which featured members Cassie and Neara on Saturday night at The Music Box. War Girl and Mainland opened the show, with War Girl’s jam-rock beats and Mainland’s polished, practiced New York brand of rock setting the tone for the ready crowd, made up certainly of fans, but also of friends and family; a group of people there equally split among being there for the music, and being there for to support their friends who happen to be band members.
They are a band whose music will take them far, but for now, only as far as their hustle pushes them. And, as they will show, until they “make it,” that’s pretty damn far.
Alison Mosshart is a rock star.
There’s really no other way to put it. The leading lady of The Kills, her band with Jaime Hince, who is equally as talented and a showman, embodies everything you imagine in a lead singer. Together, they draw a packed crowd to the Observatory North Park on a Sunday night (though, granted, it is a holiday weekend). The room is packed with fans ranging from looking like they snuck in with a fake ID to those who will never be carded again. But, to a person, with the exception of the drunk guy to the left who complains between each song that Jaime’s mic isn’t loud enough, they are there to see Alison. From the opening note, she doesn’t disappoint.
The Young Wild’s drive, it turns out, doesn’t stop running. Since ending their nationwide tour a few months ago, the band has been working with a yet-to-be-announced partner making a ten episode web series, about being a band in today’s music climate. Saturday’s show filmed live to be the culmination of the series, which, based on the first two episodes that band treated the audience to, is going to be fantastic. It displays not only the music, but looks to be a showcase for the personality of both the band and its individual members.
And, unlike The Kills, who at times are (wonderfully) the Alison Mosshart experience, the individual members of The Young Wild shine through each time they take the stage. Frontman Bryan Williams is humble, and always seemed genuinely honored that people are taking the time to come see them – a feeling that comes through in his stage chatter, both to the audience and to the other bands who travelled to come play with them. Drummer Brandon plays with a constant smile, and, as a drummer should, provides the backbone of the show. Gareth Moore, easily the most well-known and recognizable member, shares his bandmate’s qualities but adds his own humorous touch – Saturday’s performance, for reasons which you’ll have to watch the web series to understand, took the stage donning cat ears.
But all of their personality and drive would be for nothing if the music, and their live show, wasn’t good – Which, of course, is not a problem. The Young Wild put on a fantastic show on a late Saturday night, playing through not only the songs on their EP, All the Luck, but also debuting a number of new songs. “Not a One” and “Moment Goes” remain crowd favorites, with “Ain’t Got Nothing on Me,” a harder-hitting number, quickly gaining ground. New tracks “Heart Beat,” “Cut From the Same Cloth,” and “Out in the Wild” proudly display the catchy 80s-ish vibes of the young band, and had the crowd moving and singing along by the end.
Every note of The Kills’s set is there for a purpose. From the opening notes of “Heart of a Dog” to the mid-set favorite of “Doing It To Death” to the final notes of the encore finale “Sour Cherry,” ending in the two band members and their two tour musicians linking arms and taking bows, each word, strum, and beat is perfectly coordinated and felt. Both Mosshart and Hince are consummate pros, but are clearly enjoying what they do. Mosshart gives the crowd the classic rock amp forward lean as she sings, while Hince delights the audience with his guitar playing front and center, fingers flying as the instrument rests against his pelvis. It’s everything you could want out of a rock show – the band, the lights, the ambiance.
In all, it’s a display of one of the few remaining true rock bands playing their gritty, inspired rock and roll. Though they’ve been out of the scene for a few years since their last album, the live set shows they truly haven’t missed a beat. Mosshart’s trademark howls and Hince’s calm, cool demeanor (he was wearing a jacket with a bandana fashioned like an ascot, for goodness sake) continue to provide everything their fans have come to expect, and desire.
The difference between the two bands is that The Young Wild have fans who know them, while The Kills have fans who will get tattooed for them. The Young Wild literally recognize fans who were also there two weeks ago, and offer genuine thanks for taking the time to come out twice in a short period of time; The Kills stand together to take bows to their adoring, sold out crowds.
Yet, both bands delivered the rock and roll experience – one, a young band still putting in the sweat equity to succeed as they should, the other able to take five years away and return to packed venues with fans who still know every word. And, in that, both were perfect in their own way.