A Night of Style and Substance

September 16th, 2009

Miike Snow – Mercury Lounge – Septmeber 15, 2009

Miike Snow
The battle between aesthetics and content is certainly not dead. As Miike Snow took the stage in white plastic masks—one part MJ-tribute, one part Vanilla Sky and one part possible bank robbery—you could be forgiven for wondering on which side of the debate they land. This display would be concerning if it hadn’t been so cool. In the battle of style vs. substance, Miike Snow grabs from each pile with equal and effortless impact.

The most profound reveal about the band isn’t their navigation of competing artistic impulses, but how loud and explosive they sounded in person. The set opener, “Burial,” chimed out of a mess of knobs, loop pedals and instruments that crowded the stage. The band ripped off their masks after the second song and pounded out “Silvia,” with a massive closing kick, before rolling into a punched-up version of the radio single “Animal.”

“In Search Of,” a song just inches from explosion, closed the set. And the seething, sold-out crowd shuffled in approval. After establishing the loops that build the song, the band members left one by one and the instruments dropped out in kind, leaving nothing behind. This unlayering was the final moment of truth. While we focused on the style, the substance was still built piece by meaningful piece. And when it was gone, there was nothing left. —Geoff Nelson