Concert Review: Miike Snow At The Newport, May 26, 2016

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It was almost six years ago that I saw Miike Snow at the now-defunct Kool Haus in Toronto. It was an unforgettable night for many reasons, not least of which was the absolute corker of a performance put on by Andrew Wyatt and his Swedish taskmasters. With just one album’s worth of material, and with a musical format that doesn’t let itself to covers, they basically played the whole thing front to back then called it a night.

Last night I had a chance to catch up with the group again. They have three albums under their belt now, with the newest one getting a lot of reviews and airplay, but I had some concerns about how they’d do at the Newport, which is a notoriously terrible venue no matter who’s playing.

Those concerns were, unfortunately, justified.


The suckitude of the Newport is legendary, but sometimes it works. I saw Living Color there in 1990 when they were touring on the Vivid record. I was right up front. The crowd was angry — at one point somebody pegged Vernon Reid with a full pitcher of beer — and Corey Glover was in full Superstar Douchebag mode. There were three encores, the final one arriving after ten minutes of the house lights being up. I was already leaving at that point. But if you want to see something like that, the Newport’s the best venue.

For synth-pop, on the other hand, the Newport sucks hard. Most of the music, and virtually all of the vocals, suffered from being washed out by the fuzzy bass and the echo chamber aspect of the venue. If you didn’t know the songs going in, you weren’t gonna learn them by listening. After about ninety minutes, we snuck out and headed home.

You can describe Miike Snow accurately as “the guy who wrote the songs for Hugh Grant’s Music And Lyrics singing in front of two guys who wrote Britney Spears’ Toxic album” but that probably doesn’t do them justice. All three of the records have been pretty good and the crowd they drew in Toronto was hip, young, and energetic. The Ohio State students that were in the pit last night didn’t have any energy. They wanted to hear the hit, “Genghis Khan”, and then they wanted to buy some beer. There was some weird MMF three-way thing going on right in front of me: two buffed-out dudes in tight white T-shirts and a very composed brunette woman all touching and rubbing each other. Millennials, I guess.

It wasn’t all bad news, though. We arrived at the ticket line only to find that the show was sold out. To my immense surprise and amusement, the girl ahead of me in line had four tickets at will call and she was willing to give me two tickets out of the goodness of her heart. She wouldn’t even take a drink in return. I suppose that’s my good luck for the year spent then.

If you have a chance to see Miike Snow, I’d recommend it. If you have a chance to never go to the Newport, that’s also recommended.

10 Replies to “Concert Review: Miike Snow At The Newport, May 26, 2016”

  1. DeadWeight

    Acoustic properties nerd.

    Just kidding: I’ve yet to see an excellent *musical* performance at The Palace of Auburn Hills, no matter the band, while the 100 year old+ St. Andrews Hall has offered up some amazing musical performances…

    -and-

    …despite being outside, DTE Amphitheatre typically is complimentary to most bands, while the similar (in terms of being outside and in terms of size) Meadowbrook Amphitheatre (on Oakland University’s Campus in Rochester Hills, MI) is much less acoustically friendly.

    Reply
  2. Paul Alexander

    How was Living Colour live, particularly Vernon Reid’s guitar playing? I just went to Youtube and listened to VR’s ‘Mistaken Identity’. Don’t remember liking it that much when it came out but damn it sounded good. I could do without Don Byron’s clarinet, though.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      “Serviceable” is the best adjective I could come up with.

      Corey had a lot of energy but I can’t say the band was particularly tight. And I didn’t see Vernon play anything that I didn’t think I could have played, although I was a better guitarist at the age of eighteen than I am now.

      Reply
      • Paul Alexander

        That’s how I always felt about Reid, like he can’t let loose. I always heard he was amazing, but I’ve never heard anything of his that blew me away. Seems uptight in general, too worried about his jazz credentials.

        You ever listen to Sonny Sharrock? I think you’d dig his ‘Guitar’ album.

        Reply
  3. Felis Concolor

    In the 80s, many well known venues experimented with acoustic panels and active acoustic augmentation technology to increase their concert hall’s or theatre’s versatility to hosting varied performances. All of them turned out badly, which led to concert halls and theaters becoming concert halls and theaters once again.

    I have no idea what the Newport is like, nor what type of performances it was built for, but it reads like it was built badly.

    p.s. with the rise of virtual, projected characters, I am interested to see if a new venue appears, optimized for concert acoustics and full surround holographic projection systems; Welcome to Nu Vocaloid Hall!

    Reply
  4. Widgetsltd

    Your review of the venue reminds me of an experience that I recently had at two different concerts (Courtney Barnett and The Arcs) at The Glass House in Pomona, CA. Both performances were marred by muddy, droning bass. A look around the venue revealed the likely cause: a square room with two sets of parallel walls. A standing wave must have been developing around certain frequencies. Interestingly, the Arcs’ opening band, the excellent all-female mariachi Flor de Toloache, did not have this problem. I can only guess that their music lacks the particular frequencies involved.

    Reply

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