When Black Kids seemed to disappear from the popular music landscape in the .mp3-blog heydey of 2009, it looked like another example of too much hype, too soon. If the pressure of impossible expectations is weighing on the band's members still, it sure wasn't present at Larimer Lounge, because everyone on stage seemed so engaged and lively. It was like we were getting to see a band on its way up instead of one boosted up by strangers. By having a whole heap of fun on stage, Black Kids made the show fun for the rest of us.
But it wasn't just fun -- the band has musical talent to spare, as well. Ali Youngblood and Dawn Watley sang perfectly together like they were somehow twin sisters, and they switched up the way they harmonized in a way that also conveyed a sense of purpose. And that was one of the salient qualities of the band: It maintained remarkable momentum throughout the show.
If there was hype around Black Kids several years back, and if the band was as solid and compelling as it was this night, then that hype was well-deserved. Sure, there was an element of theater and practiced performance to the show, but it did not feel canned and there was nothing rote about it. These people put a lot of spirit into the show. Reggie Youngblood made some jokes -- some prepared for specific occasions, but most not -- throughout the show and was more genuinely clever than most musicians tend to be. He even talked about how "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" was one of the earliest songs he wrote.
There were a handful of new songs in the set, including "Origami" and "Clox," both of which promise for what is likely to be a worthy successor to the group's sole full-length effort, 2008's Partie Traumatic. Despite the joking, the sheer energy of the performance and the way this band is clearly practiced to the point of being able to give the impression of spontaneity, there was a gratitude and humility that the band expressed at points throughout the show. These musicians aren't taking the chance to do this stuff all over again for granted. This was a band that can deliver without burdening itself with what other people think, good or bad.
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Bias: Anytime a band gets hyped too much I am pretty skeptical. Especially when that band gives some people something to exoticize even if it didn't mean to. But a lot of bands could learn something from the band I saw in terms of grace, professionalism and great pop songwriting.
Random Detail: It looked like Black Kids had some homemade CDs of newer singles to sell on this tour.
By the Way: The Circus House, a side project of Anna Smith and Derrick Bozich of Ancient Elk, opened the show and are developing an unusual kind of electro pop sound that has a surrealistic feel to it. Slow Caves is pretty new as well and its split-identity songwriting didn't always gel, but it will eventually work its way out. Nevertheless, there's a lot of enthusiasm in that band and that will keep it going even after it sorts out what it's about if it even needs to.
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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.