The surprise release of the lead single “Only Acting” in February 2018 marked a change in sound and general theme for Kero Kero Bonito (KKB). This translates well to the stage. The recently released “Time ‘n’ Place” shows a darker yet still vicariously poppy record that is well encompassed in the line-up and instrumental change in live performances.
While the supporting act by Tim Koh was disappointing, this only helped KKB establish they’re stage presence and general energy as one that is commanding and exhilarating.
The set included a very equal spread of older songs and newer songs including the charming hit “Flamingo” as well as something slightly smaller such as the recently released “Make Believe”. While the set itself plays a crucial role in a performance, one’s enjoyment of the show is reliant on said performance and should be reviewed as a sum of its parts rather than by individual songs. This is an important thing to note for KKB. They are, in essence, a performance act.
This can range from the incredibly bright story enveloped in opening track “Waking Up” or the self-aware and deprecating track “Only Acting”. The band started by riling up the crowd by sending each member on one at a time eventually landing at a fever pitch by the time Sarah (Bonito) Perry had arrived.
This sense of performance is something KKB managed to grasp very early on in their set. Sarah herself is charming, quirky and commanded attention from the crowd while Gus, Jamie, Jennifer and James did exactly what was needed from them as a band.
The crowd themselves were very receptive and so excited that songs almost had a “sing-along” atmosphere. This is something KKB themselves capitalised on by interacting with and even passing the microphone into the crowd. Whilst this often comes off as rather cheesy and a forced way of engaging crowd participation, it wasn’t overused and felt natural to the flow of the concert.
KKB as a band prioritised fun and enjoyment over the mystique of performing and this fits their style perfectly. This level of crowd participation can also be a double-edged sword, so to speak, as the crowd themselves were very reflective of the set. One key example of this falling flat is the hit single “Flamingo”. It started rather deceptively with distortion driven guitar and bass but when Sarah held a flamingo toy over her head, the crowd erupted in noise; clearly very enthusiastic.
Unfortunately, this excitement wasn’t kept throughout the song as when the second verse (sang entirely in Japanese) started, a noticeable and rather laughable lull happened in the crowd as only of fraction of people were brave enough to attempt to sing along.
This didn’t fully deter some. The sense of self-aware fun was emphasised with gimmicky but not unwelcome props such as a pink phone used in a story-based song or a small fake bird bobbing to the music left of the stage. This show was the last of the band’s mid-2018 tour and shows no sign of fatigue. Sarah herself has an infectiously energetic personality and this is something mimicked throughout the crowd.
Overall, the KKB Whelan’s show was personal, memorable, and, most importantly, wholly enjoyable.
Image Credit: youtube.com