Some quick and dirty thoughts about the Raconteurs/Kills show at the Roseland last night. The second of two sold-out nights saw a slightly graying crowd packed all up in the Roseland, creating woefully long lines up the stairs to the balcony bar. Since the upstairs Roseland bar is officially the worst place in the world to get a drink, it was an easy decision to skip lubrication altogether and get a place on the floor.
The Kills opened with their metallic blues, playing along to clashing, clattering pre-recorded drum patterns while playing guitars distorted to the point of mechanical breakdown. They're filtering a tuneful, gothic musicality through an almost industrial filter, bringing the plummy template of duos like Ian & Sylvia up-to-date; instead of cozy bonhomie, the two darted around each other, lashing melodies and guitar riffs. "I can't tell whether they're in love with each other or hate each other," I said to my friend. "Probably both," she replied. As good as they were, I couldn't help but dream what they'd do with an actual drummer. Is that missing the point?
The Kills were the highlight of the double bill, with tunes as sharp as knifes. The Raconteurs, on the other hand, came out with a bludgeon of full-throttle, meat-fisted rock. It wouldn't slice a hole in soft cheese, but it would definitely spatter it all over the walls. The Raconteur's second album, Consolers of the Lonely, is a proggier and thrashier version of their power-pop debut, and it's not nearly as memorable. Jack White and some other dudes (I kid; they have names, I just can't be bothered to look them up right now) played a heaping portion of those new songs, drawing them out with intermittent jams, speedy riffing, slower bridges, and dramatic extended endings. Highlights of the set proved to be the older songs, "Level" and "Broken Boy Soldiers," while the remainder of the songs felt showy and wanky. Lots of power; not a ton of soul. I wished they'd concentrate on the songs instead of the riffs and interlocking parts--the new Raconteurs songs are definitely jam-packed with ideas, and it's always nice to hear a current band attempt to reclaim Zeppelin territory, but the music isn't mysterious enough.
Oh, and they didn't play "Portland Oregon," which was the opener last time I saw them at the Roseland, by far and away the best song of that show. Did they play it on Tuesday?