Easing its way back into the live gig scene after years off the road, British pop/rock group the Kooks played two back-to-back sets at the Troubadour Monday night. With new music set to be released this week, the shows offered fans an intimate look into what to expect from its upcoming record.
Tucked away among the bars, clubs and eclectic restaurants of West Hollywood, the Troubadour offered fans a great location and one of the most intimate venue experiences to be found in Los Angeles. For a sold-out show such as the Kooks, fans can expect to wait in a line that wraps around the block regardless of when they arrive. Truly hardcore fans were camped out hours in advance to be able to secure spots as close to the stage as possible.
The venue might have seemed too small to house a band of the Kooks’ caliber, but once inside, the Troubadour truly delivered. The size of the space is just cozy enough that there is a fantastic view of the stage regardless of where one stands. The floor is open for those who enjoy the close quarters that come with general admission territory, but there is also an elevated balcony to escape the crowd and enjoy a bird’s eye view of your favorite band.
The Kooks rocked two sold-out shows at 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. for two separate audiences. Tickets were scalped in the line outside for as much as $100 more than face value.
Teenage girls comprised the majority of the crowd, which was undoubtedly sprinkled with tag-along boyfriends and a surprising number of people who were able to get 21+ wristbands. Shrieking harpies aside, Monday was a night of enjoyable, funky rock music.
Local Los Angeles-based group the Futures League lackadaisically tuned and chilled onstage before opening the show with a surprisingly mature psychedelic rock set. A blend of Tame Impala vocal styling with groovy bass and keyboard action, Futures League put on a high-amplitude set running through a string of original tunes. It was clear that the majority of the young crowd had its sights set on the Kooks, but if the Futures League’s talent wasn’t enough to win over the crowd’s heart, the band’s unexpected and first-ever live performance of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” enticed the reluctant audience to sing along.
Under dimmed lights and shattering screams, the Kooks took the stage around 9:15 p.m. The band’s set consisted of a solid mix of its three albums: 2006’s Inside In/Inside Out, 2008’s Konk and 2011’s Junk of the Heart. The audience was unabashed by its diehard fandom with every song being considered a fan favorite. Classic Kooks hits such as “Seaside” and “Ooh La” were hardly audible over the noise of the crowd. Fans took it upon themselves to sing along to almost every song. It was quite apparent that the crowd was there to be with the band and interact with its members more than to explore the Kooks’ personal expression.
The Kooks treated the packed Troubadour to a few new additions to their repertoire, including “Down,” which was premiered on BBC Radio 1 this Tuesday. It has been about three years since the Kooks’ last release, so their new music was especially exciting. In true Kooks style, the new tracks were surely recognizable with lead singer Luke Pritchard’s thick accent and emotive voice. The new releases, including the venue-thumping “Bad Habit,” however, showcased a much groovier, bass-heavy and syncopated structure indicative of a band that seems to be growing up — despite its fanbase consisting mostly of high schoolers.
Pritchard put on quite the performance for his teen fans. At age 29, he could still easily be mistaken for a late teens/early 20s college student, which played to his advantage. Neither Pritchard’s vocals nor his energy wavered. Not only was he engaged with his fellow band mates on stage, but he was in constant control of the crowd. Everyone ate up his stage presence and welcomed him to stand atop monitors along the lip of the stage, if for no other reason than to say they touched his pants or made eye contact with him. But fans weren’t the only ones showing intense affection. The crowd, surely louder than the band’s own monitors, were complimented by Pritchard. “Maybe you should all go on X Factor!” One muffled yell among the crowd replied, “How? It’s cancelled!”
The roughly hour long set was kept to a tight schedule because of the following 11 p.m. performance. The Kooks ended with one of their biggest hits, “Naïve,” leaving the audience feeling fulfilled. After hearing some favorites, some new songs and finally the last note of “Naïve” was presented in a beautiful harmony, the teenage shrieks might have been worth it in the end.
It was an intimate night at the Troubadour with the Kooks. Their tour continues throughout the summer when they will perform at both the Bråvalla Festival in Sweden and the Osheaga Festival in Montreal.