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REVIEW: Kaki King @ WOW Hall (Eugene, OR – 3/9/11)

12th Mar 11 (Sat) 1 comment

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Kaki King burst into the music scene in 2003 with her exquisite fretwork and primarily instrumental pieces. “Playing With Pink Noise” (from 2004’s Legs to Make Us Longer) thrust her more in the indie rock spotlight, showcasing a guitar that she played as if it were trying to run away from her. The video for “Pink Noise” was simply a white backdrop with Kaki effortlessly plucking and slapping away among randomly timed pink rose petals and balloons. It helped land her hands on the silver screen — as the up-close guitar “stunt double” for Freddie Highmore, who played a guitar prodigy in 2007’s August Rush. Later that year, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her score for Sean Penn’s Into the Wild (alongside Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder).

With her fifth album, Junior, a more mature songwriter has emerged. She still brings the famous fretwork to her songs, but Junior brings vocals more to the fore. Kaki woos us with the subtle and intricate pop of “Spit It Back In My Mouth,” the drive of “Falling Day,” the indie pop feel of “Communist Friends” and the hard rock of “Death Head.” The vulnerable and heartfelt “Sunnyside” brings the album to a close and shows off her more personal side. Kaki King is for fans of the indie rock of Sleater-Kinney and Tegan & Sara, or for those who like a bit more virtuoso musicianship mixed in with their lush pop melodies.

Kaki came through Eugene last May, and blew us away with her rockin’ band.  For this go-round, it was just going to be her and her guitar.  Or, shall I say… guitars… this is dubbed her “Guitar Traveling Freak Show” tour…

kaki king’s “band” on this tour

Before Kaki hit the stage, Washington went on.  (Megan) Washington is an Australian singer-songwriter, who I hear is quite popular down under.  She actually started her set with a joke about an odd fellow from Arcata, CA, who brandished a sword in front of her the day prior.  She told us that she normally plays guitar, but due to obvious reasons wouldn’t be tonight.  Her sound reminded me of a slightly grittier Regina Spektor (specifically from a vocal side of things).  She definitely had some songwriting chops.  She played about an hour… sometimes dreamy piano pop, sometimes more sullen indie rock.  She didn’t have anything to sell us (no shirt, CDs, etc)… probably too difficult to manage hauling it to this hemisphere.  I’d recommend checking out her records, especially How to Tame Lions and I Believe You Liar.

Kaki hit the stage at 8:30pm for this early show.  She played almost entirely an instrumental set… with vocals only on “Life Being” and “Communist” (if I remember correctly).  She switched between her trusty six string, a smaller than usual 12-string (Irish?), a banjo-guitar hybrid, an interestingly “koto”-style modified bridge guitar, a harp guitar, and probably a few I’m missing.

Setlist: about 90 minutes

  • Bone Chaos in the Castle
  • I Need A Girl Who Knows A Map
  • Doing the Wrong Thing
  • unidentified… possibly “Ingots”
  • Life Being What It Is
  • Playing With Pink Noise
  • unidentified… possibly “Carmine St”
  • My Girl the Horse [Fences]
  • Andecy [Andrew York]
  • Because It’s There [Michael Hedges]
  • Nails
  • unidentified… possibly “Magazine”
  • unidentified… new song for Megan Washington
  • unidentified… possibly “Bowen Island”
  • Encore: unidentified… with Dan Brantigan on trumpet
  • unidentified… “world premiere” drunk guitar song
  • Communist Friends

Kaki is the kind of guitar player that makes non-guitar players want to learn how to play.  She’s also the kind of guitar player who makes current guitar players want to throw away their axe.  And despite her focused brilliance with her instrument, she has quite a humorous and awkwardly delightful stage presence.  She’s charming, she’ll jokingly cuss the audience out, and then she’ll be self-deprecating.  She’ll act playful and humble, and then she’ll smoke the 6 to 12 strings in front of her without much trouble.  There’s no doubt that she belongs on stage and that you belong watching her.

more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more tour dates below.

Next show for me… Chris Thile‘s Punch Brothers at McDonald Theatre on 3/16.

~Dan – np: Nik Bärtsch’s RoninLlyrìa

KAKI KING PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

KAKI KING – 2011 TOUR DATES
Feb 23 Museum of Modern Art: Celeste Bartos Theatre New York, New York
Feb 26 Salon Vive Cuervo Mexico City, Mexico
Feb 28 The Loft – UC San Diego San Diego, California
Mar 2 Largo at the Coronet West Hollywood, California
Mar 3 College of the Sequoias Theatre Visalia, California
Mar 4 Yoshi’s San Francisco, CA
Mar 5 Ashkenaz Berkeley, California
Mar 6 Harlows Sacramento, California
Mar 8 Jambalaya Arcata, California
Mar 9 WOW Hall Eugene, Oregon
Mar 10 Mississippi Studios Portland, Oregon
Mar 11 The Triple Door Seattle, Washington
Mar 12 Biltmore Cabaret Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Mar 24 Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mar 25 Space Evanston, Illinois
Mar 26 The Old Rock House St. Louis, Missouri
Mar 28 Southgate House Newport, Kentucky
Mar 29 The Birchmere Alexandria , Virginia
Mar 30 World Cafe Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Apr 1 Center for the Arts Natick, Massachusetts
Apr 2 Iron Horse Northampton, Massachusetts
Apr 3 Infinity Hall Norfolk, Connecticut
Apr 7 City Winery New York, New York
Apr 8 City Winery New York, New York
Apr 9 Binghamton University Binghamton, New York

REVIEW: Estradasphere @ 2nd Story Nightclub (Bloomington, IN – – 10/6/06)

7th Oct 06 (Sat) 2 comments

Estradasphere‘s show last night at the 2nd Story Nightclub in Bloomington, IN was PHENOMENAL.

I arrived in Bloomington and about crap my pants with how crazy the traffic and people in town were… apparently it is a HUGE Lotus World Music Festival this whole weekend… oy… anyway, I grabbed grub at the excellent veggie restaurant ROOTS (mushroom-patty burger, fried tofu cubes with homemade sweet plum sauce, cinnamon-or-ginger-spiced sweet potato fries, and a fresh (I saw him make it) orange and carrot juice). I was too stuffed for dessert. If I ever bring the wife to Bloomington, we’re totally hitting up ROOTS again.

Anyway, I head to the venue by about 9:30pm. The band hasn’t showed up yet. They were supposed to be there at 5pm to set up. Ru’ Ro’. I lie down on the couch in the venue, and by 10pm the band finally shows up.

The 1st opener (Das Trio) starts around 10:20pm. They had some skills (at least the bassist), but they were very muddy as a group… and the songs and vocals were not memorable. I’ve seen worse bands, but I’ve seen better. I apologize if they do a google search for their name and come upon this review. They showed potential, but the songs just seemed generic.

After Das Trio’s set, I walked around town again to kill time. I got what might have been the best double shot of espresso ever. Seriously. It was so flavorful. I totally recommend the Crystal Parrot in Bloomington. Wow. Yummy.

The 2nd opener was playing by the time I got back to the venue. Floating Hand was a three-piece, growly, death-metal slow-grindcore type band. I thought they were fantastic. Unfortunately, since Estradasphere showed up sooo late, E-sphere was setting up behind Floating Hand… which caused some ill-will (to say the least) between the bands later on in the evening (FH heckling loadly during E-sphere’s first few songs — even after E-sphere publically apologized and thanked FH for their music).

Anyway, after Floating Hand, I walked around in the cool air again… came back by 1:10am and Estradasphere was finally getting ready to start. For those who don’t know Estradasphere, they’re a sibling band (shared members) to the Secret Chiefs 3, which is a sibling band to Mr. Bungle. Anyway, they’re middle eastern-influenced progressive, jazzy, gypsy-folk, classical-tinged, insanity-for-compositional structure metal band from the San Francisco Bay area. There are 6 members in this incarnation of the band… Timb Harris on violin, trumpet and good-looks; Kevin Kmetz (aka God of Shamisen) on guitar, keyboards, and most notably the Japanese banjo-like instrument, the shamisen; Jason Schimmel on guitars (electric, acoustic, flamenco), banjo, and keyboards (including melodica); Lee Smith on drums (fast, too); Adam Stacey on accordion, keyboards & synthesizer, rhodes and melodica; and Tim Smolens on contrabass (aka upright bass) and electric bass.

The near-hour long 1st set (again, starting at around 1:10am) was seemingly mostly covers and/or new compositions. They (Estradasphere) have three full-length albums (and 2 live albums with add’l material) prior to their most recent release this year, Palace of Mirrors; yet they didn’t play anything from those albums. Odd choice, but regardless, it was fantastic to see and hear. World music with some pep.

The 2nd set, after a (literal) 2-minute break, was allegedly Palace of Mirrors in its entirety. I say allegedly, because for those tracking time, it was probably close to 2:15am when the first set ended. I had a two+ hour drive ahead of me (didn’t want to stay in a hotel — too busy this weekend to get home later). I left after the halfway mark of the album… basically after the whirlwind, violin & shamisen metal-in-your-face attack(!) of the standout track from Palace of Mirrors, “Smuggled Mutation.” I’m bummed I had to bail, but I think the club (or the police) might have shut them down anyway if they passed “bar closin’ curfew.” Sweet glory… almost an hour and a half of wonderful live music (not including FH’s great opening set).

I strongly recommend Estradasphere to anyone who likes world music, and also likes (or tolerates) harder music… but, really, the harder edge is drastically out of their live show (and album) when compared to their earlier stuff (like on Its Understood or Buck Fever).

http://www.estradasphere.com/
http://www.myspace.com/estradasphere

~Dan

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