Saw the Knife.


The glamorous life.

I don't trust people who dance to the Knife. Like knuckleheads who laugh uproariously at every joke in a Shakespeare play, I suspect they are trying way too hard to "get it." Verily, the Swedish brother-sister duo's Silent Shout is a fantastic record, equally weird and ebulliant and horrifying, but spazzing out to "We Share Our Mother's Health" like you're rocking Jock Jams or something is a mite suspicious. This music is sterile, frigid, obsessively neat, and movie star teeth-bright, like a serial killer's kitchen. A nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to eat there, let alone dance.

But there's my homeboy in the giant-ass backpack right in front of me, pretty much doing the Lawnmower with his lady as the Knife jerks arrythmically through the later of two don't-even-bother sold-out sets at Webster Hall. Like electronics-heavy bands of this ilk (the equally splendid Boys Junior and Pet Shop), reproducing such deliberately robotic tunes live can either be a challenge or no challenge at all -- Olof and Karin Dreijer both bop around flipping knobs and swinging glow-in-the-dark drumsticks, but when they pause momentarily to raise their arms in trumph, the beat goes on.

This entirely visual approach is fraught with peril. Massive Attack's recent Roseland shows were quite hokey -- ominous lighting and arty video screen hijinx and electronic ticker Iraq War factoids that all added up to the friggin' Blue Man Group. And just now I get an e-mail from a fellow Knife attendee who makes the same derisive comparison with regards to our Swedish heroes, with the subject line "Sheila E. called. She wants her drumsticks back." Yes. But shit woulda been great on mushrooms -- giant screens fore and aft nearly swallowing the performers themselves in an ADD mix of computer desktop effluvia, Gorey atmospherics, weightlifting infomercials. Occasionally giant bulbous mutant heads popped up and lip-synced along, slowly transforming into skulls at song's end.

I am satisfied that a great deal of money was spent under the auspices of entertaining me. I do not mind leaving it behind, however, fleeing back to my apartment and blasting Silent Shout through headphones ("Marble House" has emerged as the almighty jam) as I surf the Internet zombie-like for an hour or so, a string of unconnected images passing by as I occasionally catch my reflection in the monitor, looking a bit peaked and skeletal all of a sudden... oh, shit.

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