Live review: Kill Your Mules, The Milestone, 3/1/2012

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Kill Your Mules
The Milestone
March 1, 2012

Charlotte trio Kill Your Mules was nearly done with their set when the crowd was thrown for a loop. Local Filipino Elvis impersonator RenElvis, clad in a bedazzled one piece v-neck suit, joined the band for a rather bizarre, energetic cover of Elvis Presley's "That's Alright." The audience soaked up every lip curl and shake of his hips.

Though the band had teased to the later appearance of a fourth band member earlier in its set, no one in the crowd expected this. It was an interesting curve ball from a band whose hybrid sound includes hints of the B-52s, the Doors and the Ramones.

Frontman Preston Drum remained enthusiastic and animated throughout the band's 35-minute set as he danced with the vigor of James Brown and sang in a voice that Fred Schneider would consider copyright infringement. His hollow, warm, top-throat vocals led the band's jams along with synth-induced keyboards paying homage to an era that is often overlooked by music enthusiasts - dancing, punk-rock from the '80s and early-90s.

While typically this mash-up genre screams, "simple music," Kill Your Mules offer a clearer sensibility through intertwining, progressive solos and catchy, in-your-face melodies. They know their music theory. Fans in the crowd admired the band's musical delivery brought forth via meticulous plucking and slamming while bodies in the audience couldn't help but move.

A TV set up at the front of the stage played old movie clips - complete with mule references - offering a distracting focal point from the band's performance and allowing the audience to experience the music differently through the subtle companionship of the films.

Aside from any visual distractions, Kill Your Mules' sound is too contemporary and unique to ignore. It brought spectators to a happy, almost-nostalgic place while the band's performance allowed the crowd to experience different paradigms of the same composition. Not even RenElvis could take that away from them.

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