MUSIC REVIEW | Kill Kancer presents “A Killer Soirée” at Mill City Nights


On Friday, October 10, the non-profit Kill Kancer produced the latest in their series of benefit events. Hosted at Mill City Nights, the event raised money to support Kill Kancer’s mission to increase cancer prevention through awareness and education. “A Killer Soiree” was divided into two parts. The first part was a gala hosted by Robyne Robinson and Kieran Folliard that featured music by The New Standards. The second part was a rock show that featured high-power local acts like Howler, Black Diet, Rebel Queens and Black Market Brass.

Howler began the rock show, setting the stage for a high-energy night by ripping through a set of thier back-to-basics style of rock and roll. They brought their music to life by working the stage as if the they were playing to a packed room, which unfortunately was not the case. The crowd was relatively sparse for venue like Mill City Nights, but the people who were there appreciated the full power of Howler’s presentation. As Black Diet hit the stage, some more people had shown up or returned, and they maintened the intensity that Howler had established. Their short but passionate set got the crowd close to the stage, and lead singer Jonathan Tolliver stretched his mic cord as far as it would go to sing along with them from the show floor. Black Diet’s blend of punk energy and soul experience hit the sweet spot for a crowd whose age ranged widely.

For reasons I can’t entirely understand, all-woman tribute band Rebel Queens were on the stage after Black Diet. Placing tribute bands alongside original music has always struck me as weird and this show did nothing to change this. Technically accomplished, the Rebel Queens couldn’t match the energy and drive present in the artists who were playing their own material. Additionally, some of their cover interpretations suffered from a usual weakness of cover bands. Often artists in this niche omit the very nuances that make the originals so compelling in favor of more banal expressions. This is hard to quantify but I think it has something to do with not really believing what your are performing. The cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll” completely muted everything that makes the song work, turning it into an average rock pop anthem instead. However, they ended with a with a spot-on version of “Cherry Bomb” which may have been the inspiration for the band to begin with. This was a welcome high note to end their set on.

After an interminable sound check that likely drove some of the remaining crowd to the doors, Black Market Brass packed into every corner of the stage and blasted thier big, big sound for the show’s stalwarts. This was a great reward, as Black Market Brass combines James Brown-style funk with Miles Davis’ trippy jazz, all of this driven by a band full of brass, keyboards several sources of percussion, and the usual set of amplified guitars. This was a great way to end the show. It restored some the high-energy that was generated by the first two acts. Too bad that not many remained to enjoy this, but it was an exciting and inspiring way to end an important event.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.