The Knife's Radical 'Shaking The Habitual' Is Now A Concert Film : All Songs Considered Everyone sang, everyone danced, everyone banged on outlandishly decorated instruments built especially for the tour — but nobody knew who the performers were.
NPR logo The Knife's Radical 'Shaking The Habitual' Is Now A Concert Film

The Knife's Radical 'Shaking The Habitual' Is Now A Concert Film

The Knife worked with choreographer Stina Nyberg and a group of dancers from many different backgrounds to transform Shaking The Habitual live. Alexa Vachon/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Alexa Vachon/Courtesy of the artist

The Knife worked with choreographer Stina Nyberg and a group of dancers from many different backgrounds to transform Shaking The Habitual live.

Alexa Vachon/Courtesy of the artist

There is no The Knife.

One of the most confounding and liberating performances of 2014 included 25 dancers, musicians and crew — and no one in the audience knew who was playing what role. When The Knife took its album Shaking The Habitual on tour, the Swedish electronic duo extended that record's themes, of power dynamics and queer politics, in part by outfitting the performers in gender-neutral jumpsuits. It was like an aerobics tape from space; everyone sang, everyone danced, everyone banged on outlandishly decorated instruments (built especially for the tour).

From way up on the third balcony of Terminal 5 for one of these performances I spent the first 20 minutes that night in NYC trying to figure out which of the jumpsuited performers the siblings Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer. But as this "amoeba," as the band refers to itself, moved from playing imaginatively different live versions of Shaking The Habitual to using pre-recorded tracks in an extended dance performance, identity became fluid and, more strikingly, unimportant.

If you couldn't make it to New York — or, like me, were stuck on a high balcony craning your neck all night long — Shaking The Habitual: Live At Terminal 5 is here for you, documenting the night with a live album, film and photo book.

Note that there's a bit of a hiccup for streaming the album, as the band has a long-running dispute with Brille Records in the U.K./Éire, USA/Canada, Asia & South/Latin America — so if you live in those areas and go to The Knife's site right now, you get a series of vignettes (including those cryptic videos published Friday, plus a machete slapping a buttocks) instead of the concert film.

YouTube

Shaking The Habitual: Live At Terminal 5 is out Sept. 1 via Rabid (digital, DVD and photo book).