Black Kids, Esser, Passion Pit

They survived the blog buzz and have turned into quite the impressive pop band. Koko, London, February 18

Pic: Andy Willsher
With Passion Pit currently firm favourites to scoop first prize in 2009’s MGMT Idol contest, it’s no surprise that tonight KOKO is heaving from the off. Yet as familiar as these fellas are with retro bleeps and Space Invaders synth-outs, there’s a pretty significant serious’n’shy indie boy element to this Massachusetts band of chaps your mother would love to meet. Where MGMT would rock up dressed like Jimi Hendrix after an American Apparel trolley dash, Michael Angelakos and co are evidently far happier in the sensible college chic of V-neck jumpers and seminar shirts. Angelakos’ voice, a madcap funk-fuelled falsetto that soars up to the venue’s lofty ceiling, makes the likes of ‘Sleepyhead’ pure geek-soul bliss.

Esser, meanwhile, is fast marking out his territory as the disco Jamie T, or, at the very least, The Specials blasted 40 years into the future and reimaged as a cheeky chappie with oddly lovable locks. Skanking his way across the stage, his Essex rudeboy swagger might not be menacing, but it’s certainly likely to put an idiot grin on your face. The sample-heavy opening to ‘I Love You’ leads straight into a soppy street-soul banger that’s topped only by ‘Stop Dancing’’s ‘Weak Become Heroes’ brand of woozy 3am lushness. A fidgety ‘Headlock’ is the icing on an already delicious cake.

Tomorrow Black Kids – alongside Esser – may be heading out to support the Kaiser Chiefs on their trawl of UK arenas, but tonight they get to top the bill and bask in the blazing limelight they’ve deservedly bagged. Over the past year their live show has morphed from a slightly rough-around-the-edges house party set into a slick, meaty beast and a fully fledged, neon-blazing rock’n’roll show. Ali and Dawn add the perfect ’60s girl group sizzle with their shouted “sha-la”s, “shimmy-shimmy”s and “woah-oh”s, whacking their keyboards, happy-clapping and cheerleading the crowd into a state of transcendental lunacy on ‘Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)’ and ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach…’. While Reggie’s own fancy footwork sees him giddily spinning out across the stage, his resolute vocals on ‘Love Me Already’ are surely a sign Black Kids are well on their way to becoming grown-ups.

Leonie Cooper

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