The Killers, Ambulance Ltd., Surferosa / Irving Plaza / Oct. 4, 2004
Biggest surprise of the evening: Surferosa don’t sound like the Pixies at all! Nope, they’re actually Norwegian bubble-goths fronted by Gwen Stefani channeling Karen O. Or, the Sounds if they liked industrial more than new wave. The white-blonde, mulleted singer wore a half-black, half-white skin-tight bodysuit decorated with Velvet Underground bananas. She danced like an aerobics instructor and got pissed off when the crowd wouldn’t follow the moves she was trying to teach us. The keyboardist had an identical blonde mullet and the bassist looked like a Neanderthal Ramone. At one point, the singer strapped on a synth-guitar (synthitar? Keytar?), and suddenly all was right with the universe. But she only played a few notes, and it was off by the next song. Damn.
Ambulance Ltd. = snooze city. If you’re going to write boring songs, at least have an engaging live act, please.
The Killers don’t write boring songs. Their record has been such a guilty pleasure for me this year, and I don’t even know why. I mean I know why it’s a pleasure—they’re the new Duran Duran!—but I don’t know why I feel guilty about it. Maybe because they’re on a major label and seem completely pre-fabricated, but so what? Usher and Justin Timberlake are on major labels and are completely pre-fabricated, but I don’t feel guilty about listening to them. Anyway, I get such a thrill out of that song “Mr. Brightside”. The chorus makes me want to run to the edge of the nearest windswept seaside cliff, tear my shirt off and pound my chest while singing it. Maybe the guilty feeling contributes to the thrill.
Listening to Hot Fuss, you’d get the idea that this band was completely over-the-top live, like really flamboyant and wild. And that would be awesome, right? But no. The Killers, unfortunately, play it cool. They dress like Interpol meets the Strokes and barely move around at all on stage. Dudes! Live it up! You have a gospel choir on your record! You opened for frickin’ Morrissey! Where’s the glitter, the costume changes, the overdramatic gesticulating? Memo to the Killers: go buy some skintight bodysuits and synth-guitars NOW.