Kaeleigh Morrison

Niki & The Dove @ The Echo – 8/31/2012

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Vocalist Malin Dahlstrom of Niki & The Dove performs at The Echo in Los Angeles on August 31, 2012. (PHOTO © Kaeleigh Morrison)

Swedish, synth-pop duo, Niki & The Dove kicked off their 24-date American tour at The Echo last Friday night. Opening the evening was rocked-up punk band Devin and gritty, Californian duo Tashaki Miyaki.

Rocked-up punk band Devin opened the night, unfortunately they played a short set to a mostly-empty Echo. They’re a great band with tons of energy and truckloads of talent. Quick, snappy vocals by Devin Therriault and rapid-fire strumming on the guitar got the early birds in a nice sweaty mosh pit; unusual for the first band of the evening.

Tashaki Miyaki started off their set unannounced. Guitarist Rocky Tashaki quickly got up on stage and cued the sound booth by drowning the house music in a screeching din of feedback. Doe-eyed, drummer/vocalist, Lucy Miyaki donned a white, lace dress and a center-part, contrasting her partner’s distorted, gritty guitar. “I heard it is a blue moon, tonight,” Miyaki murmured between verses; her beautiful, deep, soulful voice poured into the audience with a dreamy reverb almost as unique.

Tashaki Miyaki sounds like the rebellious older sibling of Best Coast: both Californian and dreamy, buried beneath the dunes of whiny guitar and overwhelming reverb. But this duo is dark and heartbroken, nowhere close to the surf-pop tunes of teen lust that Best Coast releases. The two are often compared to The Velvet Underground, but I liken them more to Santa Monica’s own, Mazzy Star with grittier guitar riffs.

The duo performed an unidentifiable Bob Dylan cover to which Myaki’s body grooved and twisted to a beat just a little bit wicked. Finally, The Echo adequately filled with patrons, before the vocalist signed off with “okay, everyone, this is our last song. TGIF.” The moody ballad contrasted the Tashaki’s ear-to-ear grin and mockingly exaggerated dance moves. He stumbled into a rabbit hole of almost-grunge guitar licks, shredding faster as he descended into a long hallway of feedback, walls pulsing with heavy drum pounding.

Headliners Niki & The Dove keyboardist Gustaf Karlof took the stage and in a coy German accent said, “we’re going to twist some knobs, play some synthesizers and make some music for you. We’ve never played at seven in the morning before, but we sure are going to try.” The crowd squirmed with joy as Karlof twiddled promised knobs, transporting us to the trendy, hipster version of the Deathstar. Soon, singer Malin Dahlstrom belly danced in brightly colored, plastic beads, a blood red body suit, and a Chantilly lace blazer, hands twisting above her witchily. What she happened to summon up was unexpected; the otherworldly synth erupted into bouncy, rave beats. The bass was so incredible that it was suffocating, my head already clouded by Dahlstrom’s echoey vocals.

Between songs, Dahlstrom crowned herself with a floral headdress, dipped her fingertips into teeny lights, and evolved into the most eccentric raver ever. Her singing was a marriage of Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Nicks and sounded strangely natural paired with the gravelly samples Karlof raked across the crisp wails of a long-forgotten electric piano.

If Niki & The Dove was anything, it was unexpected. Ranging anywhere and everywhere from the Mario Party soundtrack we’ve all been waiting for to an oriental death procession, Karlof has a knack for selecting the strangest yet most appropriate samples to cloud Dahlstrom’s unique voice.

The night ended suddenly as the duo rushed off stage to head North to Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival, and the audience dripped through the Echo’s double-doors, gasping for the cold, night air.

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