I saw Hiatus Kaiyote more recently at the Bootleg Theatre on July 31, 2013. You can check out that blog entry by clicking this link.
On Saturday night (3/23/13), I experienced what may very well have been an out-of-body, musical experience.
I’ve been to a lot of great shows in my lifetime, and each show was memorable in it’s own right. But sometimes, a concert going experience is so complete … a perfect storm of events … that it leaves you overwhelmed while adrenaline is pumping through your body after it is all said and done.
I’d only been following Hiatus Kaiyote for a few weeks, but I had been anxiously anticipating their show at the Del Monte Speakeasy ever since I clicked “accept” to purchase tickets to their show. I had a sense of how stellar their live performance would be as I had perused many of their live performance clips on Youtube, but what I experienced surpassed my imagination.
I had recently been to the venue for a show earlier in the month, so I knew two things: (i) don’t wear layers as the venue gets sweltering warm and (ii) get there early (as in, as close to the time the doors open for the venue) if you want to get the best view. Tickets for the show had sold out, so a friend of mine and I essentially got there when the doors opened, and we staked a spot, up front, stage left.
I had read an article/interview earlier in the week of the band, and Nai Palm mentioned that she was “practically breast-fed on Stevie Wonder” (you’ll note that I named my blog after one of Stevie’s albums, because I, myself, am a huge Stevie Wonder fan) so I decided to burn her a couple of discs of Stevie material: (i) two compilations of Stevie covers put together by DJ Spinna and Bobbito called The Wonder of Stevie: Essential Compositions, Covers & Cookies and The Wonder of Stevie: Melody Man: Further Forays Into The Stevie Songbook and (ii) a mix of some of my favorite, lesser known Stevie Tracks. In between the DJ set by Aaron Byrd of KCRW and the opening act, I saw Nai Palm sitting at a table on the side stage. I briefly introduced myself and gave her the CDs. Hopefully, there was something on those discs she hadn’t heard before.
Following the opening act, the band took the stage and Aaron Byrd introduced them to audience. Really though, the band didn’t need an introduction. Nai Palm approached the microphone stand when she noticed some flowers attached to the stand’s base. “This is jasmine,” she said as she leaned in to smell them. “This is my favorite flower. They just magically appeared,” she said with a giddy smile. And with that the band started into their set.
This band knows how to play live. Each band member’s musicality was, throughout the set, put on full individual display, but they way in which the band plays their music as one, is truly mesmerizing. If you’ve take any kind of music lessons or studied music theory, you know how complex their arrangements are. Standing in my spot, I was amazed by how seamless the band would jump back and forth between chord progressions and rhythms. Music phrasings, though I had heard them on recordings, came to life and jumped around in my ears. And it was all spot on. Paul Bender on bass, Perrin Moss on drums and Simon Mavin on keys, played impeccably, and their training/experience in jazz and soul music was fully realized. And even more than that, you could tell that they were all loving their time on stage. Nai Palm surely recognizes the caliber of musicians that make up the bad. In her humble way throughout the set, she would give each member individual, deserved, props. “Simon Mavin getting magical on the keys,” She said as his fingers intricately maneuvered the keys.
Nai Palm. Oh my lord. She could very well be my new favorite female vocalist. At 23 years old, she seems to have already mastered two instruments: her guitar and her voice. Watching her perform live, up close and personal, I was entranced by the joy in her voice, and the passion with which she played. She truly fed off the audience, even taking a moment to tell the audience that she loved hearing us sing along.
And if that weren’t enough, they Miguel Atwood-Ferguson join in on a couple songs on his viola. Like Hiatus Kaiyote, he played with such intensity and passion, it was a privilege just to be in the same room as him. He’s a tall man, and the ceiling of the venue was low, and watching him play as the sweat dripped from his brow, and as the strings on his bow started fraying, I was nervous for him as I thought his intense playing would cause him to break his bow on the ceiling. Who am I kidding? He’s a master at his craft. Even the setting couldn’t hold him back.
Being that close to the stage, able to watch each musician play with such skill, took me to a concert going place I haven’t been to in a while. It must have been at least a good hour and a half before I turn to my side to check in on my friend to make sure that she was hanging in there. I had gotten lost in the music. I was zoned in on watching the band play. It was truly an out-of-body experience. I was immersed in the music. Immersed in the performance.
Towards the end of the show, Paul Bender gives a shout-out to his brother who had apparently just recently moved to Los Angeles, and who also taught him to play the bass. At that point of the show, I had really lost track of time. Though I was drenched in my own perspiration, and weary from standing in the same spot all night, I was sad that the music had come to an end.
I noticed the set list on the floor that Nai was using, but the guy in front of me asked for it before I had the chance. I saw that Paul had a set list, so I asked him for his, and he passed it on to me. I took a picture of it, but it has somehow mysteriously disappeared …. hmm … I told Nai how much I was impressed with her show, and she gave me a little bud of the jasmine that was on the mic stand. I think I’ll keep that safe for a while.
I was able to hang out with the band for a moment, snap a few pictures and get them to sign a copy of their latest CD for me. If you want to check out some other music treasure I’ve collected, click through this link. I even joined in on a little dance circle to the soul music the DJ was spinning.
I went outside to decompress with a cigarette, when Perrin and Simon came up and asked for one as well. Simon was thankful that I had extras to spare, and he mentioned that not only had it been a while, but they were all tired from their recent travel itinerary (they had just flown in from New York that morning). I once again reiterated how much I had enjoyed their performance, and by that time, I went to find my friend to leave for home.
When I got home, I lay in bed for at least 45 minutes watching the snippets of that evening’s performance on my cell phone. I had so much adrenaline in my body from the show that I had just witnessed, that it was hard for me to sleep. Hopefully, this band will be around for a while, and hopefully, they come back to Los Angeles to give me another musical, out-of-body experience.
Below are some video clips I took of the show. Enjoy them the best you can, but honestly, you need to see this band live to truly appreciate what they are about. Hopefully, they’ll be back in Los Angeles to perform in no time.
Note: In the next video you’ll see how happy Nai Palm gets when the audience sings along. Love it.
Note: At the start of the following video Miguel (at about the 8 second mark) takes note of the low ceiling. Great musicians take note of everything in their surroundings.
UPDATED 11/27/13: RELATED POSTS:
- Hiatus Kaiyote | Skirball Cultural Center | October 30, 2013
- Hiatus Kaiyote | The Bootleg Theater | July 31, 2013
- Nai Palm & Hiatus Kaiyote: Australian Soul