It’s safe to say there's a whole lot of '80s love happening in music right now. With so many bands leaning heavily on the New Order and Siouxsie and the Banshees playbook, it’s refreshing to hear music that references that most popular of decades without being obvious. Kitten Berry Crunch, who played Knitting Factory this past Friday, does this very well. Much like Fischerspooner, Scissor Sisters, and Empire of the Sun before them, Kitten Berry Crunch takes the slick futurism of early-'80s synth, tosses in a bit of disco funk, and creates a familiar sound that somehow manages to feel current.
While tunes like “Electric City” and “Dreams” were knock-outs for their accomplished pop construction, “Dead Kitten Dance Party” stood out for its weirdness and ability to encapsulate the “off” humor of this particular generation. On the surface, it was a straightforward disco song in the vein of Blondie’s “Atomic.” But then, frontman Shaun Hettinger started singing about dead kittens and dance parties. In the age of putting a bird on it, explanation is futile. Is this the birth of meme pop?
On the complete opposite end of the dance spectrum was Freezepop, the night’s headlining act. Like a Devo/Berlin hybrid, Freezepop’s smart, rave-like songs are infectious. Anytime I turned my eyes from the stage, I saw the audience dancing and singing along in euphoric unison. Add a little MDMA and some glow sticks, and the club-kid picture would have been complete.
At the end of their set, Freezepop abandoned the mechanical, sophisticated perfection of songs like “Doppelgänger” and “Imaginary Friend” in favor of a karaoke-like cover of Phil Collins' “Easy Lover.” Hardly any surprise, then, that half the audience left before the song was over. Nostalgia is fun only when it isn't tone deaf.