Those who are familiar with The Kill Devil Hills will know that the lads haven’t shied away from an opinion or two in their time, the more controversial the better; and with this type of outspokenness comes a level of expectation.

Adding to expectation is the critical acclaim The Kill Devil Hill’s have received for their work on album Man, You Should Explode, released in 2009. So with this polarising character found amongst this five-piece from Fremantle, coupled with their two year recording hiatus, it’s not surprising to find that majority of punters at the Corner Hotel on Saturday night were dedicated to the cause.

The fact that Kim Salmon, who toured with the Kill Devil Hill’s throughout Europe in 2011, was back to warm the stage for the “This Week In Pictures” single launch tour – and has formed such a kinship with the headliners is testament to the latter. Playing a neighbouring style of alternative country/rock music Kim and co. were the perfect curtain raiser for a gig of this fashion, where the fans don’t want it any other way than noisy and sweaty.

Forget the clichés, the best way to describe the sound and vibe created by the cacophony of three guitars, drums and a violin would simply be emotive. With a dense instrumental opening leading into a heavy but sensitive country number, it’s clear that behind all the bravado of The Kill Devil Hill’s there is actually a hell of a lot of feeling.

A major difference between The Kill Devil Hill’s and other country/rock/punk bands can partially be attributed to haunting lilts played by violinist Alex Archer; being included in nearly all of the numbers, it was this dark, folky element that fused with the other heavier rock qualities to create an evocative noise – applause after songs was sometimes thin as members of the crowd were busy digesting (and mostly appreciating) what was coming at them from the stage.

However, as weighty as some of the songs and themes were – the band (comprised of aforementioned Alex Archer, plus Brendon Humphries, Steve Joines, Ryan Dux, and new drummer Todd Pickett) offered jovial and lighthearted banter between numbers to often completely lift the mood of the room when juxtaposed against the duskier overtones of their material.

Highlights were “It’s East When You Don’t Know How”, “Cool My Desire” and “Chickens” – albeit only a side-step from a Led Zeppelin’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, with those sentimental guitar rifts within grasp at every chorus. The middle of the set contained several more experimental numbers (“Transylvanian Cave Music” was a particular standout) – to both the intrigue and somewhat disappointment of the audience, who were hoping for some vintage Kill Devil Hills. The band then went full circle, and closed out the set with another popular country-rock number “I Believe”. This rightly drew thick applause and admiration from the audience, before the boys marched off stage without so much as entertaining the idea of an encore; a fitting exit that embodied the very essence of this band.

– Dannika Bonser

Speaking of the aforementioned “opinions” see what The Kill Devil Hills had to say about Dave Grohl and the Black Keys in our recent interview with them.