3rd October | Rough Trade
It’s not your average Wednesday evening that you find yourself in the company of a menagerie of animals that includes a flamingo, a crocodile, and a talking budgie, along with a fusion of the most saccharine electro-pop and ear-splittingly intense roaring noise-rock. Kero Kero Bonito, however, are not your average band. They are far from that. Having surprise released Time ‘n’ Place just a few days before their Rough Trade show, the band’s new sonic direction very much defied anyone’s expectations following on from the kaleidoscopic, kawaii sensibilities of Bonito Generation. And this makes them all the more exciting.
Given the very recent album release, alongside the fact this is KKB’s first Bristol show, the atmosphere is palpably humming with anticipation for their performance, and evidence of the devoted and dedicated following they have gathered around them. The lights dim and the band come out launching into furious, clattering drums and growling guitar riffs that crescendo with intensity, until lead vocalist Sarah Midori Perry appears on stage and they hurl into ‘Outside’, the first track from the new record. Instantly showcasing the heavier, grungier side to their more recent material, there’s an immediate and infectious dynamism to their performance from the get-go.
Attempting to resolve a problem with her monitor, Sarah begins chanting ‘KKB’ which is instantly picked up and echoed zealously by the crowd. There’s an undeniable, pervading sense of community in the air this evening, a testament to the enthusiasm and warmth that KKB emanate. ‘Lipslap’ is delivered with rapid-fire vocals and sharp rhythms, and following on, Sarah holds up a picture of a shrimp to announce the high-octane eccentricity of ‘Flamingo’, their performance of which, of course, features a flamingo plushie being paraded around on stage, and enthusiastic singing along to the catchy chorus. ‘Only Acting’ is received with similar fervour, as a significant majority of the crowd join in joyously, word-for-word.
For their live shows the original KKB trio have grown to a five-piece, with this being one of their earlier outings as a full band, and it makes for an all the more immersive sound. Playing a perfectly-balanced selection from their repertoire of songs, some of their older tracks are given a noisier edge, demonstrating the band’s dexterity for blending dreamy, glistening melodies and distorted, thunderous layers of sound with ease and a perpetual playfulness. ‘Trampoline’, which they play as their encore, illustrates this, as Sarah roars the chorus with gleeful ferocity amidst swathes of screeching feedback.
Introducing ‘Make Believe’ with a dedication to Bristol’s very own James Hankins, who created the music video for this track, there’s this uninhibited essence to the song that very much reflects the nature of KKB: they are just unashamedly themselves and here to have a good time, and make sure you do too. Their track ‘My Party’, which is understandably received with delight when they play it, pretty aptly sums this up as they invite everyone along for the ride. And, as this evening’s show, complete with stage props and a lot of dancing, evidenced, there ain’t no party like a KKB party.