Live Review: Jack Penate and Miike Snow at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 18 September 2009

By on Sunday, 20th September 2009 at 11:30 pm

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the two headlining acts that stopped in Washington Friday night – singer/songwriter Jack Penate and the mysterious atmospheric dance/pop band Miike Snow. They aren’t acts that are played on mainstream radio here in America, so I wasn’t sure what kind of turnout there’d be for the evening. I needn’t have worried. Thanks to the internet and a hot tip from the Washington Post weekend guide, the tightly packed crowd enjoyed all-too-short sets from both acts at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel.

g-jpenate7Based on seeing video for Jack Penate‘s ‘Be the One’ on tv here recently, I was under the false impression that when he performed live, he only sang. This impression quickly changed when I saw photos from Reading and Leeds of him toting a guitar. Upon seeing him live, I found out he also played piano. What doesn’t he do? The set he played in Washington was, as expected, heavy with cuts from his latest album ‘Everything is New’, which was fine by me because this was the material that got me interested in him as an artist in the first place.

When he wasn’t shredding it on the guitar or seated at the piano, he was frenetically dancing to the beats of his backing band, to the delight of everyone in the club. ‘Second, Minute, or Hour’, the long song he played not on the new album, was fantastic with crashing guitars pretty much unlike like the new material. I am unashamed to say that “Pull My Heart Away” was the song I was waiting for since hearing about his North American tour and live, it was amazingly gorgeous with a female backing singer who lent an additional layer of complexity to the live versions of these songs compared to the album tracks.

There are a couple tracks from the new album that I wasn’t sure was going to translate well live – well, he totally surprised me. ‘Let’s All Die’ is an example: he prefaced playing the song by talking about the certainty of death of everyone in the room (surely such morbid talk would kill the mood, wouldn’t it?), turned into a near free-for-all when he eagerly put his mike in front of amused kids in the audience who sang the repeated “let’s all die!” chorus right with him. Phenomenal.

Miike Snow1After a somewhat lengthy shifting and arrangement of gear and equipment, it was time for Miike Snow. The live band comprises of three actual Miike Snow members – Swedish producing duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (better known in the remix world as Bloodshy & Avant) and American singer/songwriter Andrew Wyatt – plus three touring band members, so you know with all of these people on stage, there was bound to be a load of gear onstage. They took the stage with white theatrical masks, which was a little unsettling to say the least. There was a problem with Wyatt’s mike at the outset but this appeared to quickly be rectified as they opened with the crowd pleaser ‘Burial’.

During this song and all throughout their set, I was impressed with the coordination of so many different instruments; synths of every description, guitars, bass, piano, electronic drumming gizmo things, a xylophone – you name it, they had it. Fans happily sang along with Wyatt to many of the songs, which surprised me because I didn’t think that many people in America would have known who they were, let alone in Washington. I relished grooving to the electronic beats arranged by Karlsson and Winnberg, imagining just how great many of these songs would sound further remixed for the dance floor. My only complaint was that there was no encore: the crowd, manically shouting for the band to return, were certainly up for it. Maybe that’s what they intended – leaving them wanting more.

After the jump: Setlists and photos…


Jack Penate set list
Everything is New
Second, Minute, and Hour
So Near
Every Glance
Pull My Heart Away
Let’s All Die
Body Down
Tonight’s Today
Be the One

Jack Penate photos:





Miike Snow set list
Black & Blue
Plastic Jungle
Sans Soleil
In Search Of





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