KONGOS Bring South African Flair to Warehouse Live
Photos by Jack Gorman
KONGOS Warehouse Live January 31, 2015
Headlining their first-ever North American tour, KONGOS nearly sold out Warehouse Live this past Saturday. The band is currently on tour in support of their debut album, Lunatics, which was re-released last year when the band signed a deal with Epic Records (read: Sony), though it has been available in the band's homeland of South Africa since 2012.
Comprised of four brothers whose last name is used as the band's name, KONGOS are riding the wave of success brought on by their radio singles "Come With Me Now" and "I'm Only Joking." The latter better showcases the band's ambition, talent and potential, while the former appeals to the back of the crowd.
While excessive hype could have undermined the group and set fans up for disappointment, KONGOS instead used their newfound success to bring North American audiences an immensely entertaining live performance.
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Nothing KONGOS brings to the table is inherently new, but their blend of alt-rock and catchy choruses with Kwaito and other South African influences makes their sound just fresh enough to catch listeners' ears. It's a solid in-between for fans who are looking for something different but don't want to stray too far from their comfort zones.
Luckily, the four-piece's musical chops are nothing to jaw at, and their eagerness to share their love of all kinds of music was readily apparent Friday night.
Refraining from too many bells and whistles, save for a smoke machine and a few LED screens behind them, KONGOS focused on the music Saturday night, showcasing their talent and bringing their songs to life in a way that can't be captured in a studio or on record.
The crowd was enraptured by the band's radio singles, covers and the other upbeat tracks off their debut album but was unimpressed and overly chatty during the likes of "Escape." That was a shame, since KONGOS' softer songs are some of their best.
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The quartet (now based in the Phoenix area) ended the evening with a cover of their father's biggest hit, a nod to where they came from and recognition to a man who has likely been an integral figure in their musical tastes. A spin through New Order's 1983 dance hit "Blue Monday" sent the crowd off into the evening.
Personal Bias: Unsurprisingly, "Come With Me Now" has been overplayed by local radio stations. What is surprising is that it was arguably their weakest song, and it's not even a bad one.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Who's Eleanor Rigby?"
Random Notebook Dump: For such a consistently short line at the bar, Warehouse Live was pretty packed, which led me to believe that KONGOS' fan base is fairly young.
SET LIST Hey I Don't Know Sex on the Radio Kids These Days Escape I Don't Mind Take Me Back It's a Good Life This Time I Won't Forget Come With Me Now Eleanor Rigby (Beatles Cover) I Want to Know Take It From Me I'm Only Joking
ENCORE Tokoloshe Man (John Kongos cover) Blue Monday (New Order cover)
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