Live Show Review: Miike Snow at the Fox Theater

Miike Snow :: 04.12.12 :: Fox Theater :: Oakland, CA

Originally published on April 19th, 2012

^ Additional photo gallery images at the above JamBase link.

Miike Snow by Julie Logan

A sold out crowd braved the elements to see Swedish synth rockers Miike Snow last week, crowding into Oakland’s Fox Theaterto escape a very active lightning storm that lit up the Bay Area night. Once inside, people were lulled into a false sense of security after escaping the torrential rainy weather, but this sense of calm was quickly shattered as Miike Snow appeared and started up an indoor electrical storm of their own. People’s excited conversations were immediately cut short as pulsing strobe lights kicked in to illuminate fronts of thick, vision-clouding fog. A thunderous, ground shaking bass note echoed through the venue, and the crowd was swept away by the flowing music that began to cascade down from the front of the room.

For initial clarification, Miike Snow is the collective name of the band and not one of the actual musicians on stage. The group started as an side project collaboration between two established Swedish producers and an American songwriter when they met between jobs. Their colorful, synth-laden songs on their eponymous 2010 debut album became a surprise hit and propelled the band to a lengthy, successful world tour right from the start of their existence. They just released their second album, Happy to You, last month, and Miike Snow is back on the road performing their highly danceable, rhythm heavy tunes, complemented by a remarkably visually engaging stage show.


Miike Snow by Julie Logan

When the band first appeared, they were clad in the attention-grabbing getup of matching golden masks and black jackets. Lead singer Andrew Wyatt presided over his table of effects pedals, which he manipulated to ring in the booming elongated bass line of “Enter the Jokers Lair”. It started off slow, but then bandmates Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg jumped in the mix to add their own bobbing and floating notes that fleshed out the song into a melodic, dynamic piece, complete with floating xylophone solos. Everyone on stage was constantly in motion, toggling new settings on their illuminated center console of knobs, tapping out piano notes, or even strumming thumb piano chords to create beautifully layered songs. A skillful drummer hit out intricate rhythms to keep everything in line, and Karlsson and Winnberg would periodically bang out some beats on the floor tom drums that were scattered about the stage. All of these elements melded together to create the signature Miike Snow sound of catchy rhythm-centric synthesized and layered progressions that kept the audience dancing through the entire set.

So many of Miike Snow’s songs are instant hits, and almost every one they played got a great response from the audience. Wyatt is a very charismatic frontman, and my favorite part of the night was when he skipped to the side of the stage during the grooving instrumental bridge of their new single “Paddling Out” to bust out some fluid and carefree dance moves. Nobody could avoid the happy vibes he was emanating, and the crowd joined in to cast their inhibitions to the wind and surrender to the music. Another great moment was during “Burial”, which had the entire crowd singing along. Bright white spotlights lit up Wyatt as he soulfully sang into the mic, illuminating his long hair and beard and giving him an uncanny Jesus-like appearance.


Miike Snow by Julie Logan

I was surprised at how well all of these songs translated to a live performance, as the uber-smooth melodies and velvety vocals on Miike Snow’s albums give the impression that a lot of studio magic was involved in their creation. Instead of their music falling flat, the band kicked it up a notch and turned many of their basic riffs and hooks into rocking instrumental jams with a larger than life sound. Seeing everyone on stage lock into the collective groove to craft this myriad of sounds was great, and it was obvious that someone who knew what they were doing had planned out the accompanying lighting design. The visuals really fit with the music, and the rotating spotlights that cut through the thick layer of fog sometimes made me feel like I was in the middle of a deep-sea submarine game of flashlight tag. A projector added an additional visual spectacle, as complex geometric shapes unfolded on the back wall behind the band.

The band finished up their set with the piano heavy “Devil’s Work”, but promptly came back out for an encore and ended the night with a bass-centric rendition of their biggest hit “Animal”. The song’s bouncing hook was given a gritty new bass feel, and people let out their last bursts of dancing energy while jumping up and singing along to an expanded version of the popular song. It was a perfect way to end the night.

Miike Snow definitely lived up to the hype surrounding them, and their live show demonstrated why they’ve gained such immediate popularity. The band is headed down to Coachella after this performance, and then continues on another ambitious tour with many dates across the world. Check their upcoming schedule and try to grab tickets early if they come to your town!


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