Even though Vans expanded to a House of Vans Chicago a few years ago, 2018 is the last year of the original House of Vans in Brooklyn (QRO venue review). Since 2011 it’s held free shows, with free beer, as well as some free skateboarding. But the space is going out with a yearlong bang, and just combined all of its aspects & more when The Kills came to it on Friday, May 18th, along with a Girls Skate Jam & outdoor street market.
Like a lot of the ‘underground’ and ‘counter culture’ since those terms were termed, skateboarding has long tilted heavily male, but in recent years has distinctly opened up to females. This is particularly significant because skateboarding tilts so young, towards the underground youth, with no age requirements to buy a board (but it definitely gets a lot harder when you get older…), making it important to be accessible to girls, to match its long appeal to people of color. The Girls Skate Jam was hosted by New York City-based skateboard collective TheSkate Kitchen including Nina Moran, who has previously hosted the TedTalk, “Girls Belong in The (Skate) Kitchen.” The market stalls were also female-run, stretching from the regular entrance into one-half of the indoor space usually reserved for VIP (which did maybe lessen those stalls’ noticeability, but then again, maybe they got the ‘big money’ VIP who were heading to the cordoned off VIP bar…).
The early evening skateboarding was transformed into House of Vans’ regular concert set up for The Kills. Perhaps the change-up was why the place wasn’t packed, or the RSVP limit was kept low in case of rain pushing all the people from the outside area into the warehouse. Whatever the reason, it made the performance more special for those who were there, seeing The Kills in a much more intimate setting than is usual for an act that has headlined the likes of multi-level Terminal 5 (QRO live review there).
The Kills’ video for “List of Demands (Reparations)”:
The lion’s share of the set list was naturally still from their most recent record, 2016’s Ash & Ice (QRO review), such as opener “Heart of a Dog”, but also featured older pieces like “Pots and Pans” (2011’s Blood Pressures – QRO review), “U.R.A. Fever” (2008’s Midnight Boom), and even closing with “Monkey 23” from 2003 debut Keep On Your Mean Side. But most notable were both sides of their new single, “List of Demands (Reparations)” (QRO review). The Kills’ new cover of Saul Williams’ “Demands” gives the band a political edge, while fitting very much into their hard-hitting staccato (and the same for b-side, Joe Higgs cover, “Steppin’ Razor”). Indeed, the band played it days later on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (QRO Music on Late Night TV). The Kills also had some technical issues after Boom’s “Black Balloon”, and didn’t play an encore, but otherwise pulled off their show with aplomb (an encore was likely prevented by House of Vans’ closing time). Indeed, they played House of Vans Chicago’s own Girls Skate Jam the next night.
The Kills playing “List of Demands (Reparations)” on Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
House of Vans recently posted their line-up for the final year, and it’s a doozy, with everyone from Action Bronson to Slowdive, Suicidal Tendencies to Interpol. And Vans just announced a giveaway to give ten Brooklyn public schools $10,000 of music gear and a $10,000 music program grant. The space is going out in style.