When the start of a gig looks like a cross between a spaceship from E.T. and some kind of tribal ritual you think you must be in for an interesting evening. You can guarantee that you are if it is hosted by Swedish indie dance pop outfit Miike Snow. Supported by Niki And The Dove and Alex Metric, the group brought their constantly and pleasantly surprising and uplifting set to the Ritz in Manchester this week.
Kicking off the atmospheric feel, Niki And The Dove warmed up the stage with their unique electro sound featuring heavy drum beats and eighties synths. Singer Malin Dahlström’s strong voice climbed low and high notes with ease as she waved a pom pom around to accompany the group’s distinct style. Bringing a happy and chilled vibe to the stage, this is the kind of act I can imagine would be at home on the Park Stage of Glastonbury on a sunny afternoon.
If Niki And The Dove belong on the Park Stage, then Miike Snow couldn’t be more suited to the festival’s Other Stage. Their show began with an extravagant light and smoke spectacle, revolving around a hexagonal sound machine which when lit up resembled a UFO arriving from outer space and riled up the crowd as the group emerged from the smoke wearing hooded jumpers and masks. It was at that point that I wondered what it was that I had come to see. What descended on the venue for the next hour and a half was a mixture of euphoric dance and indie, received with delight by a very respondent audience.
There is something about Miike Snow that is inherently different which is hard to put your finger on and that is reflected in the people that pay to see them. The varied audience, mostly mid-twenties and above, packed out the venue anxious to hear music which wasn’t quite dance enough to be considered ‘dance’ or quite indie enough to really be ‘indie’. It was somewhere between the two with perhaps the closest possible comparable band being Vampire Weekend though in reality that is probably pushing it.
The group played a variety of hits from their two albums Miike Snow and Happy To You, with the biggest cheers reserved for ‘Buried’, ‘Silvia’, ‘Paddling Out’ and ‘Animal’. Every track bar one was an upbeat affair, building into a climax of keyboards and marching drums giving many of them an anthemic feel which would be ideally suited to a large outdoor festival. Halfway through the set the initially somewhat reserved lead singer Andrew Wyatt challenged the room to show him how the famous floor of the Ritz bounces, and during ‘Pretender’ they made exactly that happen.
Despite how big their songs are, Miike Snow are not actually a showy band. They focussed on the music, barely stopping to breathe between them and only playing up to the crowd in rare moments, allowing their lighting and vibrating melodies to bring all the drama. Wyatt’s voice made for a pleasant accompaniment to those melodies, often soaring over the loud music effortlessly.
It was clear that fans of Miike Snow absolutely love them, most of them leaving the venue soaked in perspiration having jumped around and sung in unison for the evening. The one thing this gig made me wish, was that I’d have known more of the lyrics myself so that I could have done exactly the same. Maybe next time.
Set List: Enter The Jokers Lair / The Wave / Cult Logic / Bavarian #1 / Burial / Pretender / Silvia / God Help This Divorce / Black & Blue / Paddling Out / Vase / Black Tin Box / Devil’s Work. Encore: Sans Soleil / Animal