Live Review: Kero Kero Bonito; Will Johnson tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:40 pm April 8, 2019

Kero Kero Bonito at The Waiting Room, April 5, 2019

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I went into Friday night’s Kero Kero Bonito show at The Waiting Room knowing nothing about the band other than they are on Polyvinyl Records, home to some of the cooler indie bands in the last 20 years (Rainer Maria, Pedro the Lion, Alvvays). Someone outside the club told me they were a K-Pop group. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

In fact KKB was a five-piece British indie pop act with a Japanese front woman who sang, rapped, played keyboards and balanced stuffed animals on her head throughout the set. The music had a break-beat pop flash, driven by an amazing rhythm section with fantastic drumming provided by tour drummer Jennifer Walton (most of the night).  Vocalist Sarah Bonito had a playful, child-like rap/sing style that worked well for songs about stuff like swimming and playing on trampolines. 

Early in the set, it kind of felt like Saturday morning kid’s stuff, but as the set progressed, compositions became more sophisticated and stylish in a yacht-rock sort of way. Guitarist James Rowland proved he could shred when needed, but the band’s mix downplayed his guitar. In fact, the mix felt purposely flat and two-dimensional, with nothing standing out other than front-woman Bonito’s sing-song rap. 

This was another example of a band with a mysterious huge following (tables and chairs were taken out for this show to make room for the massive crowd) that knew the words to what was clearly the band’s “hits,” which have never been heard on any local airwaves. It must be a YouTube thing. The whole crowd joined in on single “Flamingo” (a video with more than 38 million YouTube plays), and I haven’t seen a room bounce like as it did for encore “Trampoline” since the last Faint concert. 

The oddest moment of the evening came after the show ended. The band’s outro music was a synth version of John Denver’s “Country Roads” that had the entire room singing along as they headed for the doors. 

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Tonight at an unspecified location (though I promise it’s some place you’ll like) Will Johnson of Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel and Monsters of Folk fame plays an intimate living room concert. A limited number of $20 tickets are still available for this 8 p.m. performance. For more information, go here.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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