Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The French Kicks Complete Mercury Lounge Residency, 4.15.08

With their latest album currently available online via iTunes and hitting stores in May, The French Kicks are keeping themselves busy with a series of tour dates. On Tuesday night, the band completed a three-week residency at New York City's Mercury Lounge by playing an intimate, sold-out show.

The band took the stage shortly after 11 p.m. with the trademark opening drum riff of "One More Time" filling the room before frontman Nick Stumpf launched into the song's mournfully melodious vocals.

Stumpf crooned into his mic throughout the night, jerking his body around slightly to match the tight rhythms of the accompanying music. While his movements were far from violent, he was clearly feeling the music, especially when he managed to knock the mic stand offstage in the middle of "One More Time." Luckily, no one was hurt and the show continued without a hitch as a concertgoer shoved the stand back.

The French Kicks showcased numerous songs from Swimming, their newest record, with Stumpf simply introducing a couple of the songs according to their track numbers. The new material, which isn't a tremendous departure from the band's previous work, featured infectious elements of pop and garage rock and was well-received by the audience.

But the band also made it a point to include earlier material throughout the show. Stumpf referred to songs like "Crying Just for Show" from One Time Bells as an "oldie," and the audience cheered excitedly and bopped to the beat when the band played the title track from 2004's The Trial of the Century. Towards the end of the night, the band went the old-school route with a high-spirited cover of The Troggs' "With a Girl Like You."

Stumpf remained a gracious performer throughout the night, naming his bandmates both during the beginning and end of the show, and thanking the crowd at the end of numerous songs. While he kept his hands free of instruments at times, he spent the majority of the concert taking alternate turns at playing the guitar, keyboard and bass. Similarly, guitarist Josh Wise took over lead vocals for a few songs, indicating that this is a band that doesn't mind mixing things up from time to time.

It seems the night was ultimately a success for the band, who came back for a two-song encore as the lingering audience cheered for more. The French Kicks may not make the kind of music that can capture large audiences and fill up stadiums. But their somewhat minimalist, catchy hooks are well suited for smaller settings, where their live shows are capable of surpassing the energy of their mellower studio recordings.

(You may also check out this review here.)

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