Kite turn the Amsterdam into their own universe


Sunday night saw the tail end of a very eventful weekend of shows in the Twin Cities. First Ave, Palace Theatre, and the Xcel all hosted sold out mainstream shows. So of course, I had to zig when others zagged and found myself at the Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul sea of black clothing, a ton of funky footwear, and one dude in a baseball shirt.

The show was produced by Kilted Farmer Koncerts a Twin Cities promoter, who have put together some of my favorite shows for those of us with a bit of a darker mindset. For Sunday, they had engaged Echo Signal, a Minneapolis band that traces its roots back to Daisy Cutter in 2004. Formed in 2010 the band consists of Adam Riemenschneider, Jason Goray, John White, and Charles Sadler. Their musical style and influences are right up my alley with British New Wave bands that shaped me in my youth. I enjoyed their set and the variety of styles they incorporated in their songs. One song had their keyboard sounding like a jamming 70s guitar. I’ll be looking for their next performance.

The next band, Abbey Death, was the main reason I was at this show and not at one of the larger venues. The duo consists of Abbey Nex and Valerie Abbey, the latter used to perform as Valerie Gentile and I had seen her a couple of times performing with the Cruxshadows and fell in love with her stage presence. Their style is Goth Industrial. If you are looking for a gentle sound to ease into the genre, Abbey Death is not it. Their sound pushes the envelope at times, distorts, and forces you to pay attention. Their show is energetic to say the least (Flip broke his guitar strap a couple of songs in).
Oh and Valerie’s stage presence? It’s there and then some, and her partner more than holds his own. I think the pictures explain it a lot better than I can in words.

I had just learned about Kite when I started researching this show. I listened to a few of their songs and liked them but that was all I knew. Boy, was I in for a surprise. The Amsterdam’s stage was packed with their gear. 2 band members, 6 keyboards and a crapload of lights. As a photographer, I will go on and on about light (just ask my long suffering wife, children and the family dog). Smoke filled the stage and a couple of minutes into the show, Kite stole my musical heart. I am a sucker for dark synths and Kite had them in spades, singer Nicklas Stenemo’s voice has this dangerous edge to it that can lull you into a dream state only to shake you awake a few seconds later. And I was far from the only one in Kite’s grasp. Pretty much everyone in the room was dancing – some more expressive than others.
After playing the first song mostly in darkness Kite dialed up the light effects. There were several arc lights that reflected into brass disc and the light from them was unlike anything I had ever seen on a stage. Lights from the floor, solid beams shooting right past the performers faces. Light from everywhere but the front. In over 1,000 artists I have covered, this was one of the most challenging to photograph. And I LOVED every second of it. Shows like this push me, force me to find new angles and figure out how make it work.
Kite took the Amsterdam, created their own universe of sound, smoke and light transported the crowd to it, making it a show I will remember for a long time. As we walked back into the bar area of the venue packed with folks from the Phantogram show at the Palace Theatre I couldn’t help but think. “If your night was half as good as ours, you’re lucky. Because I just had my mind blown”


1 Comment

  1. I’d rather these amazing shows get the coverage they deserve. In other venues, the press will get in your way anyways. At least this way we’re more likely to fill enough seats in a venue to bring more bands.

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