For the first time ever, I’m single in New York City. I’ve just gotten out of a nearly four-year relationship, and dating feels like a completely foreign concept to me now. I swear I used to be good at it (if one can claim such a thing), but the rust is so thick it jams up my mouth when I try to talk to women. I suppose there’s nothing to do about it besides getting out there and shaking it off, which parallels what Miike Snow went through last night at New York City’s (Le) Poisson Rouge.
The last time Andrew Wyatt and his band took a stage was before I even met my now-ex-girlfriend, back in 2012 (according to setlist.fm). The last time I saw them perform live was at Coachella that year, where they played the Outdoor Theatre to a packed crowd. Fast-forward to Thursday evening, and they were performing in front of a sold-out crowd at a sub-1000-capacity venue in the middle of NYC. The setup wasn’t as impressive as it was back in Indio, but then again, there wasn’t nearly enough space for the infamous Blob (the band’s giant, personalized synthesizer) or massive light show the band was able to bring with them when they were taking on major stages a few years ago. After so long away, the rust was clearly there, but like me and my dating life, Miike Snow had no choice but to dive in and find a way to polish the weak spots.
Things got off to a bit of a stumbling start, however, as Wyatt’s (nervous?) energy caused a technical issue or two. During opening number and iii standout “Heart Is Full”, the frontman experienced what he called a “slight enthusiasm” problem as he yanked the cable from his microphone. It took a full two songs for the stagehands to fix the mic (it involved a lot of tape), and you could see a slight sense of panic as Wyatt tried to compensate with any of the numerous other mics on the stage. You can forgive him the zeal of performing for the first time in years, and it’s fair to write off many of the night’s minor hiccups for the same reason.
At times, there seemed to be general disorder: band members not knowing which song was coming next despite openly placed setlists, tuning and instrument arrangements taking just a tad too long to get in order. All told, it was the type of stuff even ceaseless, seasoned musicians deal with every now and then, but it felt particularly uncomfortable for a group pushing through stage cobwebs. Wyatt did his best to keep the banter going between downtimes, once inviting everyone back to his apartment five blocks away from the venue. “I don’t know if we can fit everyone in the bath,” he joked, “But we can try!”
Still, it wasn’t just the mechanics that showed signs of creakiness. The music itself wasn’t always the tightest, with the rhythm of the breakthrough hit “Animal” taking a few seconds to really lock in during the closing encore. Even so, the instrumental skills of Miike Snow were as ever a joy to watch. Much of the band’s music is built on electronics, samples, keys, and drums, and even if the bass lines are occasionally uninspired, watching the members constantly switch their positions was impressive. Wyatt himself would launch himself back behind the piano for parts of songs during which he’d spend the rest of the time up on the mic. Pontus Winnberg would switch between keyboards, samplers, and bass throughout the set, and the drummer
(anyone have his name?) Nils Törnqvist slayed the rhythm section all by himself.
Rustiness aside, Miike Snow’s music makes for an incredibly fun show. Songs like the new, inescapably addicting “Genghis Kahn” and older, slower “Burial” alike got the packed house dancing easily. Even with the pressures of a band premiering new songs and making their big return to the stage, there was a carefree mentality in the crowd that primed them for a good time. “Paddling Out” still plays wonderfully live; on the other hand, new track “Trigger” saw the line for the bathroom stretch a bit longer than during the rest of the set. Don’t tell Wyatt that, though, as he said the song “felt really fun to play.” It sounded fun too, but we all know how NYC concertgoers can be sometimes.
I have to wonder if the little things will haunt the band as much as my own fumbling singlehood haunts me. Those uncomfortable first date silences, the insecurity over how much affectionate hand brushing is too much, replaying and questioning every awkward thing I said are the kinds of things that keep me awake wondering if I’m presenting the best version of myself. On the same token, there’s no doubt that Miike Snow didn’t present the absolute best side of themselves last night — but if a show that enjoyable is them falling even slightly short, seeing them soaring high is going to be pretty incredible.
It was a small comeback show for a band once acclimated to huge stages and top festival billing. As their touring goes on and the rust chips away, they’re only going to deliver bigger and better sets. Last night’s gig promises you’ll see great things from them if you catch them this summer, have little doubt about that. As it was, the 700 fans in that tiny club should consider themselves fortunate for having seen them at this moment of revival, because it’s only going to get more epic from here. And Miike Snow is still a catch.