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Kill Hannah
Webster Hall
September 24, 2009

Written by Geoff Leung
Photographed by Mark Dershowitz

Opposite Photo: Mat Devine

There was no shortage of enthusiasm. Although Kill Hannah played second in a 3-set night, the crowd seemed to be more interested in them than the opener or closer. The only exceptions may have been hits like She Wants Revenge’s “Tear You Apart.” It’s easy to get on stage and just play music, but the strength of Kill Hannah’s show was the ease with which the band inhabited the stage.

The band passed up no opportunities to use fancy toy lights. Each guitar body was outfitted with fluorescent tube lights and green laser pointers on the neck. The tube lights didn’t make sense until the stage lights went down, and the laser pointers seemed like one eye-blinding poke away from disaster. Gimmicky? Of course. Effective? Probably.

Mat Devine

Mat Devine(Lead vocals), Greg Corner(Bass Guitar) and Dan Wiese(Guitar)

There’s no denying that Kill Hannah is emo, or some derivative of the genre—the singer even sounds like Blink 182 at times. The heavy beat found in all of their songs makes their sound easy to appreciate. In some cases complicated is not always better, and this is one of them. As an opener you deal constantly with the toughest aspect of any live performance: often no one knows your songs. Playing easy grooves solves that problem, but so does having a significant fan following. At one point, in what’s become typical for New York shows, a guy said that Kill Hannah sucks and immediately a girl standing nearby got in his face to defend the emo-electro rockers.

Elias Malin
Greg Corner

Whether or not the band self-identifies as emo is moot, Kill Hannah lead singer Mat Devine seemed genuinely captivating throughout the set. He came out with his hood over his head, a la 8 Mile, and after the first song he declared that he “felt like a fifteen-year old again” because their new album was about to be released. That remark must have endeared him to the the demographic that should find him the most charming. He proudly told us that we would be the first crowd to hear these songs, and I’m sure that if emo singers could cry, tears would have been flowing.

The jubilant outpouring that occurred between songs however genuine, made me feel old. I can say with certainty that this was my kind of music a few years ago, but the constant shouting and sheer force of delivery is something that is less for me and more for the not-of-drinking-age fans. In other words, Devine conveys his emotions by shouting.

The mystique of the new songs was unfortunately ruined by an extended sound check that featured a sample from the new-single “New York City Speed.” And although no one should have already heard these new songs, people cheered as if they were already staples of the band. Actually they got a bigger reaction from the crowd than the new songs that She Wants Revenge kept cramming down everyone’s throat. “Strobe Lights” was the song of the night, with its easy to dance groove and Guitar-Hero solo that lasted at least a full minute. “Radio,” another new song that Devine introduced as being very special, received nearly the same kind of applause, but featured standout lyrics like “You spit a lot of shit.”


Kill Hannah Guitarist
Kill Hannah Guitarist

After doing the same show a few hundred times, most bands have to work so as to not appear to be reading from a script. It’s the audience’s responsibility to test the authenticity of the performer, to make sure that they really mean the things they’re saying. I don’t think anyone questioned the sincerity of Kill Hannah that night.

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