You ever get a really intense food craving? Like you start thinking about strawberry shortcake at about 11:50pm and you know you can’t go out and buy it this very moment, but you keep thinking and thinking about it? So you go to sleep straight away just so that when you wake up, you’ll be that many more hours closer to being able to go outside and eat a piece of strawberry shortcake? And when you wake up you decide you should really have your cake after lunch, because you’ll probably get a stomach ache if you try to eat it for breakfast. Once you eat your lunch and you finally FINALLY get to eat the piece of strawberry shortcake after all that waiting it tastes so sweet and good and you just make a sort of satisfied sighing sound? “Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…!” That’s kinda how I’ve felt about seeing The Kooks for the very first time this weekend at North Six in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Ever since I first heard “Eddie’s Gun” off their EP, I’ve been totally in love with The Kooks from Brighton, England. Their blend of soulful groovy pop rock was such a refreshing sound from all the whiney indie rock I often find myself listening to. I’ve been constantly talking about them any time someone asks me what good music I’ve discovered recently. Some people have commented that The Kooks aren’t very cool in the UK, as if being uncool has ever stopped me from liking something (helloooooo Coldplay!). Sometimes certain bands just click with your emotions–it’s not an intellectual thing whatsoever. Sometimes you just don’t know why you like a song or an album so much, you just do, and for me, The Kooks’ Inside In – Inside Out was just one of those albums I immediately liked without knowing anything about the band.
Anyway, enough defending, back to the live show biznizzle:
The gig was absolutely insane. I positioned myself front and center a few rows back in order to take photographs. As soon as the band broke into their first cords of “Seaside”, a number of larger British men bum rushed the stage and I was squished into the people in front of me. All of a sudden I was in the second standing row with what felt like a 1,000 pound jumping gorilla on my back.
Every time an up tempo song started, like “See the World” or “Eddie’s Gun” I got a little scared for my life, fearing that the shouty, jumpy men behind me would become too aggressive and I would find myself to be the first Kooks-related fatality in the United States. Fortunately for me, that didn’t happen–despite their best efforts. It was so hot, sweaty, and cramped that busting out dance moves wasn’t even an option for me. I even got hit a couple times on the head with the bottom of a beer bottle as the fellas behind me pogo-ed.
Lead singer Luke Pritchard is an absolute dynamo, jumping and gliding on the stage with incredible fluidity–like a later-day Mick Jagger. He could not keep still for more than 3 seconds at a time, often bending down to sing into the crowd, or leaping on top of the monitors and flailing his arms like a tightrope walker to gain his balance. Luke was also a fan of the one-foot hop, bouncing from stage left to stage right on the strength of one leg. Dressed like a neo-hippie with a loose-fitting white tunic with bell sleeves, accessorized with long-chained necklaces with cute bobbles at the end, which swung to and fro as he swayed. His curly mop of hair had perfect, shiny ringlets, making him look like a very rock and roll living Frize-ease ad.
Ok before I go on to say anything else, I have to get this off my chest. How HOT is Paul Garred?!?! When I first saw Paul at a pre-show party I didn’t know who he was, but my heart skipped a beat. Then my friend informed me that he was the drummer of the Kooks. Holy mother of god, he’s a hunky piece of man. He kinda looks like an mixed up indie version of a…er… Evan and Jaron and James Marsden. I know that’s not the most appealing description of a man to the rock ‘n’ roll set, seeing as how both references are…well…kinda wholesome and Wonder Bread, but Paul has that whole wide-eyed, still young enough to be corruptible look.
Pete (bass) and Paul (drums) paid homage to NYC by both wearing t-shirts of the famed now-closed punk rock club CBGBs.
The band sounded spot on, and tight as a drum pushing out the songs one after another with a certain ease. The crowd was basically wrapped around their little British fingers, shouting and cheering along to all of the songs, at times the audience’s volume reaching the level of Luke’s amplified vocals. The young kids in the front, all marked with giant black “X”s on tops of their hands, all looked up at the band with saucer eyes, soaking up all they could of the lads–and perhaps creating some of their first memories of gig-going in the process. The older concert goers, some of them already clad in Kooks t-shirts, hollered out song titles like they were badges of honor–the more obscure, the better–with their unrecorded track “Looby Loo” garnering the most shouts.
And with the same amount of style and flare they first came to the stage with, they exited, the crowd clapping and cheering as they retreated backstage, still wanting a little bit more–just the way it should be done.
And some video of the boys doing “Ooh La”:
More photos on Flickr.