Lot 6, The Kills, and Order of Dying Orchid

By Amy Briggs

Overall, Wednesday night at Tokyo Rose ended up well worth the five dollars, once again. However, Lot 6, the opener from Boston, never quite ascended the 43 steps to memorable modern fiction. Although they initially sparked some promise with a few interesting moments, hopes eventually cooled once we got into their safe, normalized, restrained delivery. Perhaps the root fault was a lack of square-pegged uniqueness; at times, they squeaked too cleanly into the blanks of dissonant nu-millennio rock. Maybe with a better name and a fresher take, they’ll chisel out their own sound– otherwise, they’ll be doomed to a life of opening acts.
The Kills, a duo from London, shocked the nodding back to life with an energy reminiscent of Royal Trux’s highwater abandon (the controversial, volatile, noise-rock partnership of Jennifer Herrema/Neil Hagerty). Under the assumed monikers VV and Hotel, the two awed with a larger-than-life stage presence. Hotel, a surly British gent with an open-E tuning, sauced out blues chords and fingered filigree; VV strummed rhythm guitar and smoldered in a chain-smoked alto.
All percussion was provided by an amplified tape deck. A little research unearthed that VV is none other than Allison Mossheart, former vocalist for Discount, a Florida-based nineties punk. Now she’s resurfaced here as an elfin ex-pat, rangy and lean, into clutching microphones with Jim Morrison suggestiveness. The Kills’ taunts proved fun to watch/listen to.
They were cocky enough to pull off a great cover of Captain Beefheart’s “Dropout Boogie,” plus a couple of bizarre haircuts; VV’s was an arena-rock-meets-art-school fey-mullet. At times, she and her ‘do suddenly trailed away from the microphone… to pace back and forth on the stage, as if the intensity of performing was just too much. Feigned or not, the Kills’ dark rock charmed the crowd.
Harrisonburg’s The Order of the Dying Orchid finished up the night with all the inertia and purpose of a plummeting anvil. Half witch coven, half moose lodge, The Order are a brotherhood of specialists– in noise deterioration. Stressed strings, cracking vocals, muddy minor chords, polluted riffs were all garish, theatrical, and strangely pleasing.
The lead singer, a boyish dramatic, vogued and postured in cross-pollinated contortions of silent film villainy and David Bowie glam; lyrics, yelled in thin nasal, seemed mostly to revolve around fantastical fauna such as lidless, gaping fish, and man-eating tigers.
Thomas Dean, one of the region’s most talented garage guitarists, led the group in octane-fueled two-minute masterpieces: leaning, jumping, kneeling, trolling riffs through swamp monster muck. The secret of The Order’s success seems to be their unyielding friction against the standards of good taste, their over-the-top opulence. It’s no wonder their latest project is a rock opera.