Concert Review: Kero Kero Bonito @ 9:30 Club (10/8/19)

Kero Kero Bonito
Kero Kero Bonito (Photo Credit: Tracey Ng)

Did you get your K K B fix at the 9:30 Club?

Kero Kero Bonito came through DC on October 8th, giving the decently robust concertgoers a right proper 90-minute set.

An electropop band from London, Kero Kero Bonito is touring for their new EP, Civilisation I. The EP explores religion and the world ending, digging into the threats of social divisions, climate change and more.

Heavy stuff, maybe, but most of their songs feel light and fun. They mixed in songs from both of their full-length albums and three EPs, including two from the new EP. That’s how they started the set, with the single “Battle Lines”, full of discordant video gamesque beats.

The band is Sarah Bonito (aka Sarah Midori Perry) on vocals and keyboard, Gus Lobban on drums and keyboards, and Jamie Bulled on bass, and when touring they are joined by Jennifer Walton on sampler, and James Rowland on guitar. Before they graced us with their presence, the entire crowd chanted ‘K K B! K K B!’ over and over. Sarah walked on stage with a heavy silver parka (it wasn’t that cold out), and the band played underneath a giant image of their last album, Time ‘n’ Place from 2018.

Next came “Lipslap” which started with Sarah using her finger to slap the aforementioned lips.

They last played in DC three years ago, but still many people knew the words and sang mightily to the sometimes silly, but often charming, antics and lyrics. For example, with “Flamingo” Sarah flaunted a stuffed flamingo while the crowd danced and sang along, and notes of a pan flute wafted wistfully in the background. (Later, a stuffed crocodile made an appearance for “Pocket Crocodile”.) “Flamingo” also highlighted the varying elements of their music, like Sarah mixing verses between English and Japanese or breaking down the lyrics into a form of rap, with a British accent. Many of the songs were introduced with pithy little hints about its title, like ‘We’re going back to the party.’ (for “My Party”) and ‘This is dedicated to all the fishes.’ (for “Fish Bowl”).

“Time Today” was one of my favorite songs they played, with its heavy, heavy drum beats and what may have been a vibraphone! They performed 22 songs in total, mostly from the two albums, Time ‘n’ Place and Bonito Generation.

Midway through, “Break” (‘It’s time to take a break!’) has a pure pop song hook, and even hints at the sounds of fellow British singer, Lily Allen.

“Fish Bowl” is about how we are comfortable in our little worlds, but how will we know what to do when we get out in the big world? It came with computer beeps and other discordant sounds, giving it an ambient air. Interesting choices that did work together well.

“Dear Future Self” is a subtle anthem about overcoming insecurity as you get older, yet hoping the tribulations along life’s path won’t leave you jaded. None of the music so far gave us anything to worry about, their future selves will be just fine.

Near the end of the main set they dropped the meandering “Swimming”, for which Sarah crooned softly and the other band members jammed under the flashing orb that is the 9:30 Club’s massive disco ball. A smooth song, and one of the highlights of the show.

U2 got an homage, with a cover of “Vertigo” to start the encore. They finished the night with “Trampoline”, about partying forever together, where I was pleasantly reminded of Van Halen as the song revved into full gear. Sarah thanked everyone for ‘the chance to kick ass’, and they went out on top with a flair of high voltage rock.

Get yourself some K K B the next time they grace DC! And bring your stuffed crocodile. Or flamingo.

Setlist
Battle Lines
Lipslap
Waking Up
Flamingo
Only Acting
You Know How It Is
When the Fires Come
Time Today
Break
My Party
Fish Bowl
Sick Beat
Dear Future Self
Make Believe
Pocket Crocodile
Flyway
Sometimes
Big City
Swimming
Picture This

Encore
Vertigo (U2 cover)
Trampoline

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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