KASABIAN @ Cabaret La Tulipe

By Lisa Weatherby - 05/18/05

While sold-out theatres around town were screening illuminated battles of the light sabre kind, another well-lit spectacle was taking place at the equally sold-out Kasabian concert last Wednesday night. Beams of purple, green and blue flooded the dark space, creating an ambiance that puts the UFO landing from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to shame. As the shadowy figures took to the stage amid a cloudy purple haze, the crowd roared and cheered in anticipation of something grand, something of a higher power.

Uh, excuse me? This sort of opening is reserved solely for seminal bands like Pink Floyd, where a light show this pretentious is acceptable.

The first song, "I.D.", is quite catchy with its trippy beat fused with soaring guitars. I found myself unable to control my tapping foot and swaying head. I remember an equally powerful reaction to Kasabian’s music. While watching television, I was unable to switch the channel during a Chevy car commercial that featured the band’s single "Club Foot". Normally I channel-surf during the breaks, but my eyes were fixated to the rather ugly black bubble vehicle on the screen. Their music resonates in your ear to a point where their high octave vocals put you in a hypnotic state. This can’t be good, I tell myself, and quickly pull it together. As I look around at the audience, I notice most of them have come under the Kasabian spell. Some have their eyes closed, others their hands raised. Where am I? Are the Raëliens in the house? Of course, I know exactly where I am: a concert filled with washed-up candy ravers who’ve graduated to a more sophisticated, lyrical soundscape in the form of Kasabian. Influenced by everyone and anyone who is original in their own musical genres (Brian Eno, Eminem, Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles), Kasabian manages to put out songs that are solid and catchy, but unique they are not. Honestly, they don’t sound a thing like their comparisons Primal Scream, Happy Mondays or Boards Of Canada. The only band whose music I can compare them to is the late 1990’s groovy acid pop band Kula Shaker. Kasabian failed to mention this band as key influencers and frankly I’m quite hurt!

Lead singer Tim Meighan does a lousy Jim Morrison lizard dance and does not do justice to the Jagger swaying and jimmy leggin’ that Pelle Almquvist of The Hives painstakingly perfected. Lead guitarist/vocalist Sergio Pizzorno, looking like an unhealthy version of Sam Roberts on shrooms (of course), has the energy and demeanour of a rock star; confident in his assumed role, he slurs gibberish to the audience between songs as girls gush. Interaction with the fans was the constant acknowledgment of what city they are in and thanking the crowd for their support ("Alright Montreal", "Yeah Montreal", "Hello Montreal", "Thank you Montreal"). After about the 12th shout-out, I was ready to throw a beer bottle at the stage, something a fan in Glasgow did about a month ago.

Clearly this band needs more time to perfect audience interaction, stage presence and musical identity. Living up to these expectations shouldn’t be too hard if they truly follow the same fate of the woman the band was named after. Linda Kasabian, Charles Manson’s getaway driver, was given not one but two dismissal charges for having redeemed herself from incidences that would have surely led her into a downward spiral.