Miike Snow are six on stage, and they all wear matching shiny black track jackets. One, obstructed by stacked trunks bearing equipment, wears a cowboy hat. Their music is complex and dancy, all synth and keyboard and a thousand unnameable gadgets, a little guitar and drums that sound like a machine. Everything is arranged in a neat arch on Music Hall of Williamsburg’s wide stage, organized in little stations for each member.
Somewhat surprisingly, Miike Snow’s songs are about sadness and depression – songs to walk alone in the rain to, lyrics-wise. Their music is music to get down in the club to, unthinking and unconsidered. The bald man twisting dials on the synth in front of me bobs his head excitedly – “he looks like he belongs DJing in a club,” my friend insists – to lyrics like “don’t forget to cry at your own burial.” The crowd dances more than I had expected them to. Depressing lyrics don’t matter – for Miike Snow, words are an afterthought, something to provide added rhythm, to layer with fuzz and xylophone. They are good words, often, but unnecessary. What matters is music – sound, loud and echoing and varied and ecstatic, regardless of anything else.
This is perhaps Miike Snow’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. Six of them – three dedicated to tales of pedals and boxes and dials – succeed in creating lovely dance songs, perfect clean pop music, but the experimentation – electronic jamming, if you will – all those pedals and dials make possible live is redundant and, after the five-minute mark, boring. They are wonderful songs, I think, and they need nothing extra. There is plenty of time to showcase musicianship within the songs themselves.
The band’s whole set, especially songs like “Burial” – their opener – and “Animal” — the crowd cheered rapturously when the synth emerged from a mess of sound, like the sun coming out — was well-received by the audience. “Sylvia” and “Black & Blue” found the frontman behind a keyboard, delivering classic pop piano to mix with the rest of the band’s electronic fiddling. Almost everyone in the room danced and cheered for everything – and deservedly. Every song was perfect to dance to, despite the lyrics or the cold rain outside or anything else. We could all dance and watch the band bob their heads and fiddle with their thousand gadgets, regardless of anything.