Monday, May 10, 2010

Kaki King concert (or: Mind Status: Blown)

I have decided that this blog, despite all appearances to the contrary, is not dead.

Among other things, I'd like to get some concert reviews written. Here is one of them!

After seeing Kaki King at the Beachland Ballroom on May 4th, I commented, "That show pretty much blew my mind."

I've seen a lot of good concerts recently, but it's especially cool when a show is not only amazingly good, but also far exceeds any expectations I had going in. That was the case here. I only very recently started listening to Kaki King. What got me into her was hearing her new single "Falling Day" in the car on WRUW. I was instantly enthralled by the song, and although I did not catch the name at the time, I decided I would have to go check out the show playlist when I got home and see who it was. After seeing the name Kaki King, I remembered a friend had told me about her a couple months before, and that she would be playing the Beachland. I decided to get Kaki's new album Junior before deciding whether I would go to the show. I liked it - a lot - and also checked out ...Until We Felt Red for good measure. Having thus familiarized myself with a decent portion of Kaki's catalog, I was very much looking forward to seeing her live, but I had no idea what was in store.

Kaki is an amazing guitarist, and also employs an amazing variety of musical styles, all of which she pulls off very well. She opened the set with the previously mentioned "Falling Day," to my delight. Admittedly, I didn't find the live version quite as good as the album version on this particular song; I didn't think her vocals sounded as confident live. She may be getting used to singing rock vocals; her previous albums have had less singing and not really in this style. Still, it was a good opener, and things really picked up from there.

The most impressive part of the set was when Kaki's two bandmates left the stage and she played a few solo acoustic songs. This was a part of the show that I did not know to expect, and her complex finger(nail)picked and fingerslapped instrumentals were simply jawdropping.

Although her technical skills on these songs were absolutely stunning, several other songs left me even more in awe. The first of these was when she created a mini-suite by placing the fantastic new song "My Nerves That Committed Suicide" in the middle of an older song which I unfortunately do not recall the name of. This was a more epic post-rock performance than anything I saw at the Caspian and Red Sparowes concert last month. Almost as good was main set closer "You Don't Have To Be Afraid," the ending of which rocked way harder than the also fantastic album version.

Kaki did not make us wait long before coming out for a several song encore. The final song, "Gay Sons Of Lesbian Mothers," was another definite highlight. She started it off solo with a lap steel, on which she built up the various parts of the song with looping. After she played for a few minutes, her bandmates joined in, and she set her guitar down while the looping continued. She had said before the song that we were going to dance. True to her word, she came down off of the stage and danced with the delighted crowd. It culminated with Kaki dancing on a table.

Kaki played for almost two hours, and the whole show was pretty much brilliant. And as if her singing and guitar wizardry weren't enough, she also had plenty of genuinely interesting and amusing stage banter, including a story of her crazy German friend telling Kaki about a song the friend had written called "Skypefuck," which Kaki hilariously imitated with a couple seconds of exaggerated metal vocals.

So to sum up, if you get the chance to see Kaki King live, do it. And check out her albums, too.

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