OnlineRock Blog

22 September 2011

The Kooks Stop By Fingerprints For a Secret Show

By Nancy Woo

The line was out the door and around the corner, halfway down the block, for a special live performance by happy-go-lucky Britpop band The Kooks last Monday - not surprisingly! They make some damn catchy feel-good pop music and who wouldn't want to get washed away in happy pop tunes in their favorite Long Beach, CA record store, Fingerprints? In fact, when I asked Luke Pritchard, lead singer, why they decided to stop in and play a show at Fingerprints, he said, "We just love Fingerprints! It's a great little record store." Luke, I couldn't agree more.


The crowd starts to file in around 8:00 p.m.

The Kooks stopped through Long Beach on their way through to LA on Monday, September 19th to play one of many CD release shows for their third album Junk of the Heart, which hit stores only 6 days before this secret show. That's right. This show was not advertised. In order to get on the guest list, you had to call or come in to Fingerprints and pre-order Junk of the Heart. Only $17.38 for a brand-spankin new CD and that was the ticket in.


Following Konks in 2008, Junk of the Heart is the Kooks' third album, released September 13, 2011.

And even though it was a secret show, word spread fast and it sold out quick! These guys, I can safely say after seeing them in concert, are just chock full of that happy, upbeat energy that just makes people want to be around them. And I don't think it's just because they're rock stars - they seem like the type of guys you would love to just sit around and shoot the shit with. They don't take themselves seriously at all, and you can tell they are just having a ton of good old fun. I wasn't quite sure what to expect since they're a pretty huge pop sensation, comfortable climbing UK and US charts, with MTV awards to boot. Happily, they all treated their fans like those friends you met that one time, and they lacked the ego I might have expected.

If you're familiar with their music, you know they can craft a catchy pop tune that will make you smile like no other, and they are proud to do it. "Junk of the Heart (Happy)," the first song off the new album, features an adorable croon by lead singer Luke Pritchard as he sings, "I wanna make you happy, I wanna make you feel alive..."

Well, there were plenty of girls (and guys too) that were made plenty happy by this small, intimate performance on a small stage set up in the back of the record store, outlined by a makeshift red curtain, with only about 180 people in attendance, according to the Facebook statistics.


Crowd shot from the back - the energy is high and people strain to capture the Kooks on camera.

At this point, I couldn't see a damn thing, my vertically challenged 5 foot 1 frame not doing much good here. Luckily, I wielded some Online Rock VIP power and made my way upstairs, where the view was much better:

The Kooks play at Fingerprints in Long Beach, CA.


The Kooks started playing around 8:15 p.m. and ended around 9:00 p.m., so it was a pretty short set, though crammed with pop-rock energy, jokes in between songs and plenty of whistles, coos and shouted love letters from the audience. The crowd was definitely jumpy, excited and into the music. One of my favorite parts was when they played "Do You Wanna," from the Konks album because cutie frontman Luke bounced the question around, "Do you wanna make love to me?" to which various audience members of both genders shouted a vociferous "YES!" There was one tall guy in the middle who was definitely the most vocal, shouting, "Yes, I want to make love to you!"

Their sound was crisp, clean, pulled together like they'd done it a million times before - as they probably have. Luke and Hugh seemed to have an especially brotherly relationship, as I noticed them catching each other's eye as they jumped around in rhythm. The drummer, Paul Gerrard, also sweated with a smile, keeping the dance beat alive.

The first two or three songs they played were from the new album, songs that I recognized but hadn't yet learned, then "Do You Wanna," and the closing song of their set was the bubbly "Junk of the Heart (Happy)," which most audience members seemed to already know. It was a crowd pleaser and the perfect song to end their first set with.


"Junk of the Heart (Happy)" live at Fingerprints.

Though they began the set with some newer, lesser known songs and then moved into the more popular tunes, as is expected, they couldn't end the show without an enthusiastic encore. As they left the stage after finishing "Junk of the Heart," the drumming and chanting began immediately, and for such a small venue, the sound hit all the walls. Five to ten minutes later, the boys reappeared and played, to everyone's delight, "Naive," the hit single off their first record Inside In/Inside Out. "Naive" topped the UK charts of 2006 at number 5. And it's just a warm, fuzzy feel-good tune that can't help but get those toes tapping and that smile blooming.

The Kooks play an up close and personal show for their closest 180 Long Beach fans.

Lead singer Luke Pritchard and bassist Peter Denton.

Luke Pritchard and lead guitarist Hugh Harris.

Drummer Paul Garred.

The Kooks caught in a moment of musical rapture.

The full band.

Lead guitarist Hugh Harris.

This girl's dreams came true that night.

So happy!

This girl was Numba One Fan by far. She was waiting in line for the show since 3 p.m. - and it paid off for her when Luke leaned over and asked "What do you want to hear, sweetie?" as they came back onstage for their encore. She answered, "Sway," and although Luke told her he couldn't play that, he hoped she would like "Naive," another crowd favorite. I was overjoyed they played it, anyway! If they hadn't played at least one of their big hits, they would have been letting a lot of people down. "Naive" was no doubt the highlight of the set for me. I was singing along, tapping my feet, and grinning like an idiot.


Another best part for fans was the CD/Vinyl signing afterwards. Since buying a CD or Vinyl record was the ticket in to the show, fans received their merchandise as soon as the band finished. No matter the long line - eventually everyone got up to the front to have all four band members sign their CD or Vinyl. Everyone also got a Kooks poster.

After the show, the band mingles with the crowd, signing CDs and posters.

Some of the more daring girls asked for a hug or even a kiss from their favorite, and never did I see any of them deny. It was all smiles and laughs, high fives and jokes - cracked, of course, in four fast-talking British accents.

Outside Fingerprints, some fans lingered, hoping to entice the boys to go out for drinks or take a picture with them. Hugh stepped outside for a cigarette and got bombarded for pictures - though he was a good sport about it, he'll probably be rethinking that one next time.

Below are three of some of the Kook's biggest fans. Natalie Byrnes, middle, celebrated her 23rd birthday at the show, complete with receiving a hug and kiss from Luke and Peter, and she said she couldn't think of a better way to spend the night.

Three satisfied fans: Katrina Oliveros, Natalie Byrnes, Linda Shi.

Thanks, you kooky Kooks for coming all the way across the pond to play at Fingerprints in Long Beach, CA!

And thank you, Fingerprints!

All in all, it was the perfect in store appearance - a fun crowd, a well played set and even personal interactions with the band members. Plus, a new CD or record.

If you are in Long Beach and are pouting right now because you didn't know this was happening, go ahead and sign up for the Fingerprints newsletter, which you can find at http://www.fingerprintsmusic.com/

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