Earlier this year, I saw Hiatus Kaiyote on a whim, and they blew my mind. From Melbourne, Australia, this “future soul” band has a sound that I particularly love. As soon as I found out that they would playing in Los Angeles again, I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale.
Since the first time I saw them, back in March, the band has toured internationally and signed to Salaam Remi‘s Sony-distributed Flying Buddha label, and re-released Tawk Tomahawk with a bonus track — a version of album highlight “Nakamarra” featuring a guest verse from Q-Tip.
I got to the venue and went straight to the merchandise table. I was specifically hoping that the poster for the event, which was posted on Facebook a few weeks prior, would be available for sale. It was a gorgeous looking poster, and I wanted a copy very badly. Unfortunately, the posters were not for sale and the only ones that I could find were either pasted to a wall, or hanging from the bar. I asked the bartender if he’d sell me one of his posters, but said no, going as far as to say that he owned everything in “his” bar and that nothing except for drinks were for sale. I went back to the merchandise booth to ask the woman working there if I could carefully peel a poster from off the wall, and she said that she wouldn’t permit that, but as she was speaking she saw a poster drop to the floor. She smiled and told me it was my lucky day. Indeed! I got the poster autographed after the show, and it’s going to have a permanent spot in my collection.
The opening act was Contact Field Orchestra, an instrumental project from Damon Aaron. Using a box of 7” tapes of field recordings recorded almost entirely of hand-made instruments and contact microphones from the turn of the century that he purchased at an estate sale, he’s created a sound unique sound of ambient music shrouded in mystery. Prior to the set, he announced to the audience that we may need some medication to appreciate it. I was sober, and I still enjoyed the music.
After his set, the stage hands started setting up for Hiatus Kaiyote. The band’s set was delayed as people were still in line outside trying to purchase tickets at the door … um … don’t people know that they can purchase tickets in advance online? When the band finally got onstage, the lovely soul-stress Nai Palm humbly apologized for the delay, which was really no fault of their own, and the band commenced the audience’s journey to soul-town.
I am a music dweeb, and what I love about watching live shows is how the live performance compares to recordings that I’ve previously absorbed. The first time I watched Hiatus Kaiyote perform, I was only somewhat familiar with their music, but this time around, I must have listed to the original release of “Tawk Tomhawk” at least 15 times digitally, and 10 times spinning on vinyl (the original pressing from Australia that I purchased after seeing them the first time, which I also got autographed after the show), so I’d like to think I knew the tracks pretty well.
They blew my mind once again. They took all of the songs I knew and took them to places that amazed me. Nai’s vocals were as soulful and jazzy as ever. So much soul, it was overflowing. The band’s musical oneness was on full display. Paul Bender’s bass, Simon Mavin’s keys, and Perrin Moss’ drums exhibited a musical synergy that most bands can only dream of, each taking their moments throughout the set to exhibit their own personal flares of musical ingenuity. Paul Bender was steady on bass, but added his own funky flares. Simon Mavin’s effortless playing on the keys allowed him to flourish and expand upon those keyboard moments that I loved so much from the album. His playing on “The World It Softly Lulls” is mesmerizing:
I was particularly impressed with Perrin Moss’ drumming as there were certain moments that shocked and lifted me; sneaky little drum licks that only lasted for a brief moment, but that caught me by surprise. Speaking with someone after the gig, I was told that he had spent the whole day in a drum session, so he was probably inspired to try new sounds for the set.
After the show, a friend of mine was able to get me back stage to hang out for a moment. I had a chance to talk with the members of the band and they spoke about their experiences from touring and their plans to record new recordings after their current tour. Damon Aaron was also backstage chopping it up with Miguel Atwood Ferguson and I politely interrupted the conversation to a get a photograph. I was also lucky enough to see Nai jam a cappella with Moses Sumney for an exclusive with KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole. Magic.
The band had to pack up an great ready to catch a 4:00am flight to Chicago, so my friend and I saw them off in their tour van. If I recall correctly, they may be back in November for another gig and to record locally. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up with them on a personal level again, but most definitely I will be buying a ticket to see them perform.