SAN FRANCISCO — With the Killers, Dave Keuning helped build a forward-looking yet nostalgic sound. The band’s influences rested somewhere between new wave and roots rock. With his new solo project, Keuning takes a slightly different tact, emphasizing synths and keyboards for sound closer resembling New Romantic and early synth pop acts like Modern English, Yaz and Depeche Mode. To bring the point home at his show at the Independent Wednesday, he even performed a convincing cover of “Enjoy the Silence.”
Keuning opened with mid-tempo number “The Queen’s Finest,” off his just-released debut album, Prismism. The singer-songwriter is taking a break from touring and recording with the Killers, and as expected, he steered clear of his band’s songs, focusing instead on the new material. He followed the opening tune with “If You Say So,” which would actually fit right in the middle of the mid-’90s alt-rock scene, and “Broken Clocks” and “The Night,” a mid-set highlight with the nostalgia cranked up high. It is a song that could equally score a nighttime drive or a prom slow dance.
For “Pretty Faithful,” Keuning switched instruments with his bassist and the song from that instrument, riffing all the way. Following “Ruptured,” another synth-heavy song, and “Enjoy the Silence,” he transitioned to “Prismism,” his solo album’s title track. The slow burner has a synth programmed to sound like notes played in reverse, and the song fit seamlessly next to the Depeche Mode cover. “Boat Accident,” the album’s opening track with a riff that recalls The Cars’ “Just What I Needed,” came next.
The latter part of the set included a cover of Rex Orange County’s “Loving Is Easy.” For the encore, Keuning performed his Latin-guitar-tinged “Gimme Your Heart” backed only by a keyboardist toward the end, and finished with single “Restless Legs,” one of the best cuts from Prismism.
San Francisco dark pop lovers Dangermaker opened the show with a set that included a couple of older fan-favorites with material off the band’s recently released 2018 album, Run. Singer-guitarist Adam Brookes and co. opened with “I Won’t Let You Down,” “In a Dream” and “Isolation,” all from the new album. The songs were brooding and swoon-worthy, driven by the rhythm section of drummer Carlos Rodrigues and bassist Neko Matsuo. Brookes’ guitar pierced each song on which he played, and keyboardist Dave DeAngelis added textures throughout.
The set included equally enticing songs like “Sleepwalking,” “Pressure” and “Something More,” as well as the lounge-like dance rock tune “Face the Facts.”
“I think that was for Sean Spicer when I wrote it,” Brookes said.
Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.