Nicklas Stenemo of Kite at Spellbound on March 4, 2017. (Photo by Paivi)
Draping the intimate space within Recessions in soothing synthpop, Swedish duo Kite dropped by the weekly Spellbound party on Saturday to engross an attentive crowd with their poignant compositions.
Since forming in 2008, Kite have released a series of six EPs via Swedish indie label Progress Productions. In concert, Kite draw largely from the last two — Kite V from 2013 and Kite VI from 2015. They began appropriate with “Nocturne” from the most recent EP, providing their audience with a steady beat alongside the comforting voice of singer Nicklas Stenemo.
Kite have not come to the United States for their second American tour empty-handed! They perform a new song as their second number of the night, introducing DC to “Demons and Shame.” Keyboard player Christian Berg gives the song more percussion, and it unfolds as an anthemic outpouring of cathartic energy. “Demons and Shame” will appear on a new Kite EP slated for release in August (an EP presumably titled Kite VII).
Kite embrace intricate and grandiose melodies in a manner similar to Ultravox, a favorite go-to band of mine, but they certainly go darker in both their temperament and their lyrics (which all said have an uplifting bent to them). It’s the sort of music to play during the end credits of a sci-fi disaster movie that ends on a hopeful note, or perhaps over a scene of Sonny Crockett looking stricken over a dead friend or innocent bystander in the final scene of a Miami Vice set in a dystopian future.
Nicklas and Christian pick up the pace with “I Can’t Stand” from Kite V and also deepen the despair. As they approach the end of their set, Kite get a bit more hopeful with perhaps their biggest song, “Jonny Boy” from Kite III in 2010. The synths strike a vaguely Celtic note as Nicklas sings of escaping himself and his concerns by going out with his friend Jonny. The song strikes me as slightly New Order, a compliment indeed, and feels as though it could have dropped in on us from the halcyon days of synth circa 1983.
Watch the official music video for “Jonny Boy” by Kite on YouTube:
Kite close their main set with the optimistic “Dance Again,” which unleashes another wave of majestic synth melodies. They return for a one-song encore of “Up for Life,” an excellent, stirring manifesto. It is a fine song indeed.
This is the full Kite setlist from March 4:
Demons and Shame
I Can’t Stand
Count the Days
Up for Life
Kite resume their tour on March 12 in St. Paul, Minnesota. They play a series of dates afterward that take them to Seattle on March 29. A Kite show is a grand opportunity to immerse yourself in some well-crafted European synthpop. Don’t let the opportunity pass by; catch them live and absorb as much of it as you can.
Here are some pictures of Kite performing for Spellbound at Recessions on March 4, 2017. (All photos copyright and courtesy of Paivi.)