Author: Duke Denham
A couple weeks back. Kero Kero Bonito stopped by Neumos to deliver a show that truly heightened all of the charming, radiant qualities of their music. It was a night of moshing, immense fun, and an escape from everyday life.
Jaako Eino Kalevi, a musician from Finland, opened up the night with a lowkey but alluring electro/dream pop set. Although he was only joined by a bassist while he himself juggled between keys and guitar, they still managed to conjure up a strong moody/hazy vibe to start the night off. Kalevi has a knack for constructing catchy, entrancing synth and guitar melodies for his songs. In fact, the most exciting moments of his set were when he’d burst into these melodies or when the songs occasionally built into a swirl of chaotic, trippy synthesizers. However, some of the songs dragged on slightly longer than needed, especially when they’d repeat the same verses and choruses without any progression. Kalevi’s deep, silky, and subdued vocals didn’t necessarily contribute anything too memorable either. Regardless, I thought their set was a pretty good opener for Kero Kero Bonito.
Shortly after Kalevi, the time for Kero Kero Bonito arrived. The band has toyed with many different genres across their discography ranging from synth pop to pop punk. With that in mind, pulling together a cohesive live set of various sounds may seem like a challenge, but KKB pulls it off effortlessly. I believe a major component of this success is the addition of guitarist James Rowland and drummer Jenny W. Rowland helps to express most of the noisier, more guitar-centered elements prevalent in Time n’ Place. Jenny W, on the other hand, covers a majority of drumming parts so that Gus can focus on accentuating the synth-forward, bright qualities of earlier releases. With these additions, more digital, minimal songs like “Kero Kero Bonito” can go back-to-back with distorted, punchy rock jams like “Only Acting” and feel seamless. Some songs like “Trampoline” even got a full-on hard rock makeover complete with chugging guitar riffs and Sarah’s out-of-character, gruesome screams.
Some may worry that the added members may ruin the chemistry between the original members, but this isn’t the case at all. The group has been touring together for some time now and completely perform as one unit. Not once did I feel like somebody was out of synch with the rest of the band. Each member successfully supports frontwomen Sarah Bonito as she sang too. Her optimistic, cheerful charm was on full display that night complemented by the use of flamingo/crocodile stuffed animals and solid fan interaction. Despite all of these great qualities of their concert, I believe the true beauty behind a KKB live show goes much deeper than just airtight performances and well-assembled musical arrangements.
The spirit and attitude behind KKB is very akin to that of children. Children often possess this eagerness to share things that they’ve discovered for the first time, even if it’s very simple. That same excitement and joy for sharing is present in KKB’s music when they celebrate basic acts like taking pictures. Even on some of the more mature songs from their last album, that childlike wonder prevails. I seldom come across music or even adults in general that manage to hold onto that type of spirit into adulthood. We can become so overwhelmed and jaded by the stresses and hardships of growing up that we can easily lose sight of what it means to be a child. Not only has KKB managed to hold on to their childlike sense of wonder, they’ve mastered the ability to communicate that characteristic through a colorful, layered, and musically-appealing live experience that feels completely unique and authentic to themselves. I believe it’s a major factor in why so many people resonate with KKB on such a deeper level.
Taking a break from my daily life to enjoy a show that is filled with such optimism and vibrancy was refreshing. Kero Kero Bonito is a band that is unafraid to embrace themselves and as a result, fans connect with them so easily. There’s something very beautiful and almost spiritual about being in a room filled with people who are soaking in the bright, bold energy of the band just as you are. KKB easily has one of the most special, unparalleled live shows out there and I highly recommend seeing them when they come back to Seattle in October if you can.
DUKE DENHAM | Moshing at a KKB concert? More likely than you think | KXSU Music Reporter