Electronic pop group Miike Snow treated an audience of more than 1,000 to a bracing exhibition of enigmatic songs at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland on Sunday.
Miike Snow is a trio of two Swedes and a New Yorker. Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg are pop prodigies who have helped craft material for Jennifer Lopez, Madonna and Rob Thomas. Britney Spears’ delirious 2004 hit “Toxic” may be their most notable achievement. New York native Andrew Wyatt has collaborated with Bruno Mars, Beck and Flume.
As Miike Snow, the three men apply their pop wiles to a slightly subversive style that deftly bridges the gap between electronica and indie-pop. Bolstered by a third instrumentalist and a background vocalist, the men showcased 14 selections from their three albums in a breezy 75-minute appearance.
Wyatt acted as the frontman. He and his bandmates regularly bounded from keyboards situated on a platform to sing or play additional instruments at the front of the stage. Murky lighting and a boxy stage set that looked like it was purchased at Ikea made it difficult to ascertain the source of each sound.
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Although they expended an admirable amount of energy, Wyatt, Karlsson and Winnberg never seemed entirely comfortable. The studio whizzes might have been aware that the live versions of their shimmering recordings were comparatively dull.
The imperfections didn’t spoil the fun. Like a tidy fire inside an igloo, a warm glow softened from the icy exterior of “Billie Holiday.” The audience slithered to a carefree version of “Animal” and bounced to a reading of “Genghis Khan.” An impish interpretation of “The Heart of Me” sounded as if Paul McCartney was trapped inside a video game.
Surrounded by keyboards and a drum kit and occasionally wielding a guitar, Jack Garratt operated as a futuristic one-man band in his 45-minute opening set.
The British musician flailed at his drums and yelped into a microphone so furiously that he was forced to pause between a few selections to catch his breath. While he occasionally resembled a more mature Justin Bieber, Garratt most often sounded like an over-caffeinated Marvin Gaye tribute band.
Garratt tried too hard to impress the audience. For the members of Miike Snow, however, creating immaculate pop seems to come all too easily.
Miike Snow set list
My Trigger, Billie Holiday, Cult Logic, Genghis Khan, Paddling Out, The Heart of Me, Burial, Heart Is Full, Silvia, I Feel the Weight, Song for No One, Black & Blue, Longshot (7 Nights), Animal