Live Review: The Temper Trap and Florence and the Machine with the Kissaway Trail at 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. – 6 April 2010

By on Monday, 12th April 2010 at 2:00 pm

The Washington, D.C. branch of TGTF were lucky enough to have tickets to the sold out Florence and the Machine / The Temper Trap double-header this past Tuesday at the 9:30 Club, and it was unforgettable night. For three bands that each have their own distinctive sounds and even come from different countries (Florence is British, the Temper Trap is Australian and opener The Kissaway Trail is Danish), having them on the same bill worked surprisingly well. Some of the audience was clearly there for only one band (there was a noticeable shift in the crowd between Florence and the Machine and the Temper Trap’s sets), but the majority of the crowd stayed throughout the whole show and enjoyed it immensely.

Danish indie band The Kissaway Trail opened the show with a short, 6-song set. Most of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with them, but by the end of their set were really getting into it. The band combined keyboards, drums, guitars, bass and tambourine to create a very rich sound without once sounding jumbled or too heavy – quite a feat, in my opinion, with that many musicians. One of the highlights of their set was “61,” a powerful track from their 2007 debut album, which had a gorgeous  5-part harmony. “New Year” was also very impressive, especially the long and intricate breakdown. Switching between different instruments and jumping around the stage, their energy and their passion for the music really showed, and that’s what won the audience over. They closed their set with single “SDP,” a song from their new album, “Sleep Mountain,” which they pointed out wasn’t coming out for a few more weeks in the US (it’s already out in the UK), but they had for sale anyway.

After their set, there was a palpable buzz in the air as the crowd eagerly anticipated Florence and the Machine’s set. To match her flowery backdrop, flowers were added to everything: amps, Florence’s mic, and even a drum they set up for her to play. When she finally came out in a black romper and a sheer glittery cape, the crowd went wild. Everything about her set was incredibly dramatic. Between her flaming red hair, her outfit, the fog and the flashing lights, she was captivating to watch. She used her cape and a shawl as props, taking them on and off throughout the set, and used careful hand and arm gestures for emphasis while she sang. Despite this, nothing came off as too stiff or too planned – she used dramatic poses when they suited the song, but was just as often running and jumping around the stage and encouraging the crowd to join in.

But while Florence Welch is stunning, people don’t go to her gigs to see her, they go to hear her. Her distinctive voice is very powerful and expressive live, somehow even more so than on her album. I never understood before what people meant when they thought her album was over-produced, but hearing her perform the songs live, it became obvious that her voice could easily carry the songs with half as many frills on top. Often the crowd would go silent listening to her sing, which was preferable to the times they tried to mimic her singing, a feat they obviously couldn’t pull off. But Florence didn’t seem to mind when the crowd butchered her songs, she was very touched that on her first time in America, on only the second night of the tour, people were singing along to all the songs. She didn’t speak much between songs, but when she did it was almost always to thank the audience for being so amazing. One of the most impressive things about her set was how well-planned the set list was: she started with less-known tracks like “Howl” and worked her way through more and more popular tracks, so that by the time she closed with her three best-loved songs, “Dog Days Are Over,” “You’ve Got the Love” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up!)”, the crowd was going crazy.

Because there was a noticeable shift in the crowd after Florence’s set, I was worried the crowd wouldn’t be as into the Temper Trap. And while a few overzealous Flo fans shouted her name when she came out onto the guest balcony with her band to watch, for the most part the crowd was loving them. While people were standing in awe a lot for Florence, they were grooving a lot more to Temper Trap. Lead singer Dougy’s soulful falsetto voice is also very distinctive, but in a completely different way to Florence’s. He had a lot of stage presence, shimmying and dancing as he played, and you could tell he put a lot of passion into his performance, as did the bassist. Several girls near the front seemed to find the band incredibly sexy no matter what they did, but I’d say the sexiest song of the night was the slowly building “Soldier On,” which they played in the middle of their set. In the beginning, the backing was minimal and it really showcased Dougy’s voice, but by the end they had built it up into something absolutely massive. Another song they slipped into the middle of their set was their best-known track, “Sweet Disposition.” It caught the audience off-guard and they went mental – absolutely everyone was singing along. “Resurrection” was also very popular. They brought out another drum for Dougy and put it in the middle of the stage. He then poured a bottle of water into it so that water splashed up really high when he played it. It looked incredible, and had the added bonus of being very refreshing for those of us in the front row. For the encore, they played a slower new song called “Rabbit Hole,” which went over well, and their most recent single, “Science of Fear,” which a lot of the audience seemed to know.

Coming out of the gig, my overall impression was how incredibly talented this group of musicians was. They used tricks and props to add drama, but it was all really about the music. To not only see such a diverse and talented group together, but to have them enjoy each others’ company so much and really enjoy touring together was a pleasure to watch.

Behind the Cut: Set Lists and Photos!

The Kissaway Trail Set List:
Friendly Fire
New Lipstick
New Year

Florence and the Machine Set List:
Kiss With A Fist
Hurricane Drunk
My Boy Builds Coffins
Between Two Lungs
Drumming Song
Cosmic Love
Dog Days Are Over
You’ve Got the Love
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)

Temper Trap Set List:
Down River
Love Lost
Soldier On
Sweet Disposition
Rabbit Hole (new song)
Science of Fear

Florence and the Machine Photos:

The Temper Trap Photos:

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