Miike Snow @ Mr. Smalls – 5/27/16

Miike Snow gave a stunning performance at Mr. Smalls. Quite literally -- their strobes were powerful enough to stun those who are predisposed.

Before the main event, California-based touring opener MUNA proved to be a perfect matchup for the night’s main event. Their sound, characterized by atmospheric synths layered with driving guitar rhythms, was familiar territory for Miike Snow’s crowd. Without being overly showy, MUNA’s three front-ladies powered up the night with a silk-smooth performance. Lead vocalist Katie Gavin sang with distraught emotion and an air of heartbreak, while her adjacent bandmates Naomi McPherson and Josette Maskin filled the subtle harmonies. The crowd was really starting to move, especially when the band got to the hooks from their recently-released EP, Loudspeaker. Upon finishing their set, MUNA praised Mr. Smalls as their favorite venue of the tour, no doubt increasing the sentiment that the audience already felt for the dark pop trio.

The night moved on to Miike Snow, whose show began with a mystifying stage. Set design for the show was brilliant. Monitors backlined the musicians in the band; strobe lights littered the stage. Sometimes, colorful numbered boxes flashed brightly in the monitors like magical sudoku blocks. Other times, such as for the introduction to “Heart is Full,” most of the lights completely cut out with dramatic effect. The stage was a whirlwind of light manipulation featuring every color in the rainbow.

The spectacle of the production was an accessory to Miike Snow’s musical performance, of course.

Each member of the band acted as a multi-instrumentalist, save for the touring drummer. Singer Andrew Wyatt focused most of his attention on vocals, but frequently accompanied himself with a keyboard or guitar. Swedish duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg rounded out the band by alternating between guitar, bass, keyboard, background vocals and various synth instruments. No matter the instrument, everyone in the band was steadfast in his playing.  

They played their most recent hit “Genghis Khan” early in the set. During the introduction of the song, Christian lit a thick stick of incense. He continued to light incense throughout the show, adding smell to the already loaded sensory ambiance of the night. They pulled out all of the stops once their song “Sylvia” came on. Christian climbed onto a tall speaker and successfully catapulted himself from it when the second chorus came in. Andrew sang into almost every available microphone on stage for this tune while simultaneously playing maracas. The musicians on stage, as a whole, livened up tremendously by the end of the set.

The band chose to close the night unassumingly. At least, that’s what they led everyone to believe. As the encore began, the monitors behind Miike Snow lit up with credits rolling in a massive display. The two-song encore concluded with their hit “Animal” and an unapologetically hyped-up crowd.