Kin Heads - This local quintet is making its live debut and has a lively contingent here to give them support. Turns out they don't really need a lot, as they are a fairly skillful bunch with good control of their sound. Like a reggae band, the basslines and the swing in the drums dominate, while the two guitars (and sometimes keyboard) emit sonic textures to set the mood. The female singer is solid as the band comes up with a feeling of indie as well as classic sounds. The guitars do cut loose now and then, but the rhythms are what holds it together. They are quite appealing and have the capability to expand on their skills and come up with even more complex arrangements over time. Add a cover of the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams", a guilty pleasure of mine, and you have a successful debut.
Kokayi - Kokayi is a singer, but he is here with a guitarist, bassist and drummer which is a really good thing as this band is piping hot. He starts in a hip-hop, R&B, rock style of vocalizing, but eschews the hip hop for much of the set. While the guitarist occasionally channels Isaac Hayes, I hear much more of Keith Levine here. In fact the whole band could be Metal Box era PiL supporting someone like Seal on vocals. The drums are quick and powerful and the bass playing is big and thick. And the guitar keeps going into strange places as the guy squeezes out angular chunks of bliss. It is all crisp and powerful throughout the 35 minutes. I hope they continue to stay together and work this kind of magic again some day soon.
Spirit Animal - I have seen these guys a few times before and they never fail to deliver an intense performance filled with fun songs, skillfully played. They have the usual bass, drums, and guitar and the lead vocalist sometimes uses a keyboard. The songs were a little less psyche this time around and they seemed even funkier than usual. It was a bit like NoMeansNo, but not quite as twisted and dark. They certainly are tight enough to push any limitations they may have previously had, and they are kicking up a nice din tonight. They start and end the set with brand new songs, one of which showed some severely intriguing songwriting. Both were heavy on the rhythms, which made for a little more movement in the crowd than what usually is seen. They play a fairly short set, but the energy is strong and they pack in plenty of songs, so that is not a problem. This hard touring band is well worth a visit and I doubt this will be the last time I will be checking them out.
Quote of the Night: From Kokayi introducing his band... "And behind me we have Twink on drums!" Uh, did I hear that right? (I did) Thankfully she was a lot younger and more in control of her brain and hands than the Twink of old...