Hiatus Kaiyote | Skirball Cultural Center | October 30, 2013

Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote
Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote

Hiatus Kaiyote is one of two bands who I’ve seen perform live 3 times this year. Clearly, I’m a big fan of their music. They blew my mind at the Del Monte Speakeasy in March, and amazed me at the Bootleg Theater in July. Performing for the last time in Los Angeles in 2013, I jumped at the chance to buy tickets to their show at the Skirball.

Once again, they delivered beyond my expectations.  Like their show at the Bootleg Theater, their musicality was on full display. Though I knew all of their music, what I heard that evening was beyond unreal. They took the musical themes of almost every song, and improvised and jammed new life into them. It was as if the audience was being treated to master-class remixes of the original recordings. It was wonderfully brilliant. If you are already familiar with their music, you should check out the video snippets from the show below. I think you’ll catch my drift.

IMG_3106They played a couple new songs that they were working on for their next album (“Breathing Under Water” (titled “Breathing” on the setlist) and “Don’t Mind With My Atoms” (titled, I think, “Bordershiine” on the setlist). After their gig, I caught up with some of the band members who told me they were going to head back home to write and record their next album. That being said, I realized that their next trek through Los Angeles wouldn’t probably be until they support their next album. Their performance at the Skirball will hold me over for a spell, but I have a feeling that I’ll be jonesing to see them live by Spring of 2014.

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.

Add Hiatus Kaiyote on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter using the handle @HiatusKaoiyote. You should follow them. You need to see them perform live. Do it.

Hiatus Kaiyote | The Bootleg Theater | July 31, 2013

DSC02654Earlier 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.

IMG_2318I 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.

DSC02501The 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.

IMG_2320I 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.

Paul Bender of Hiatus Kaiyote on Bass.
Paul Bender of Hiatus Kaiyote on Bass.
Simon Mavin of Hiatus Kaiyote on Keys.
Simon Mavin of Hiatus Kaiyote on Keys.
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Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote.
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Nai with the glowing eyes and Perrin Moss on drums.

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.

Damon Aaron, Me and Miguel Atwood Ferguson.
Damon Aaron, Me and Miguel Atwood Ferguson.Me and the lovely Nai.
Me and the lovely Nai.

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.

Nai, Perrin, Simon and their tour manager.
Nai, Perrin, Simon and their tour manager in their tour van.

Add Hiatus Kaiyote on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter using the handle @HiatusKaoiyote. You should follow them. You need to see them perform live. Do it.

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The Night Hiatus Kaiyote Blew My Mind At The Del Monte Speakeasy 3/23/13

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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.

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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.

Nai Palm. Note the jasmine on the mic stand.

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.

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson killing it.
Miguel Atwood-Ferguson killing it.

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.

The set list that magically disappeared...

The bud of jasmine Nai Palm gave me.
The bud of jasmine Nai Palm gave me.

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.

Hiatus Kaiyote was kind enough to take a picture with me.
Hiatus Kaiyote was kind enough to take a picture with me.

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.

Signed album artwork.  Treasure.
Signed album artwork. Treasure.

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:

  1. Hiatus Kaiyote | Skirball Cultural Center | October 30, 2013
  2. Hiatus Kaiyote | The Bootleg Theater | July 31, 2013
  3. Nai Palm & Hiatus Kaiyote: Australian Soul