You’d never guess how much fun it is to constantly repeat the “nobo” in Bonobo while you mentally beatbox along to it. Such was how I spent the majority of my Tuesday prior to Ninja Tune songsmith and production wizard Simon Green’s Seattle performance at Showbox at the Market that night.
Orchestral swells fill the dark stage at the venue save for one intense spotlight that’s brighter than the sun that blinds us all as members of Bonobo’s live band take their positions one by one as a flute and lazy breakbeat signal the opening strains of “Pick Up” from Bonobo’s second album, Dial “M” For Monkey.
“What’s going on, Seattle?” cheerfully enquires Mr Green in his Brighton brogue as he slings a bass around his neck and quickly leads his band into the sitar-infused “Flutter.” The stage lights are still minimally lit and through the darkness the backdrop reveals itself to be simply composed of five vertical strips of five plain lightbulbs, making them look like the most low-budget Christmas decorations ever.
As the sunny, rolling groove of “Kong” tricks us all into thinking that summer is just around the corner, vocalist Andreya Triana takes to the stage. Dressed in a white lace dress and brown belt, her smokey yet delicate vocals effortlessly manage to captivate everyone in the room as she starts to sing “Stay the Same” from Bonobo’s latest album, Black Sands.
After playing “Days to Come” and “The Keeper,” Simon and his seven-piece band exit the stage leaving Andreya to go acappella as she hums, oohs, and aahs into the mic, records and loops various layers, and then sings over the top of the beautifully ordered chaos that includes a looped half-beatbox half-asthmatic cough from Ms Triana.
Trumpet, saxophone, and trombone solos all follow from the horn section as the band returns to the stage to perform “Kiara,” “Ketto” and “Noctuary,” and as the drummer breaks away to play a spectacular freeform drum solo that’s so exuberant his hat flies off his head, the saxophonist rumbles a brassy bass blast out of his horn in time with the beat to create what is possibly the world’s first live soulful dubstep track.
Simon Green and his band then bid the crowd farewell, evidently happy and jubilant with the fantastic audience response that their music has garnered tonight, and return to the stage for an much demanded encore that includes the stunning, Andreya-fronted ‘Black Sands’.
In support was LA’s Tokimonsta. “This is my first time in Seattle” she says into the mic to cheers from the proudly local crowd, “so let’s make it the best time!”
Signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint, Tokimonsta dishes up galloping basslines and gritty, squelchy beats much in keeping with the sound of her Brainfeeding family. Perching over her glowing MacBook and clad in a light gray cardigan and red and black square scarf, the DJ booth in front of her is a mess of electronics and multi-colored tentacle-like wires that resembles the aftermath of a particularly raucous alien spaghetti buffet.
Tokimonsta’s upfront set includes the now-globally popular Katy B’s “Katy On A Mission” and a dubstep remix of Max Romeo’s “Chase the Devil” that skillfully segues into a brilliant three-way mashup of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” Dr Dre’s “Xxplosive,” and Dam-Funk’s “Hood Pass Intact.”
Also in support was KEXP’s very own Kid Hops, who warms up proceedings by playing the very best in spacey, dubbed-out future house beats and dubstep, including a filthily good remix of Ben Westbeech’s “So Good Today” that’s so large and bassy it sounds as if the Cookie Monster had just found a bag of Chips Ahoy hidden in one of the speaker cones.
Check out Kid Hops’ reggae show Positive Vibrations every Saturday morning from 9am to 12pm. He’s also one of the hosts of Expansions, KEXP’s electronic music show, broadcast every Sunday evening from 9pm to midnight.
High: You. The audience. The Showbox at the Market floor didn’t stop moving throughout the entirety of Bonobo’s set due to the fun, friendly, and surprisingly energetic crowd that didn’t stop dancing for a second. Seattle, you really make a good show great.
Low: Not being able to see the equally splendid Belleruche, who deal in bluesy electronica that’s not a million miles away from Bonobo’s sound, playing in Seattle the very next night.
In a Tweet: Flutes, horns, Andreya and a relentless drummer all make for the best Tuesday night you’ve had in a while. Just don’t call it “lounge jazz.”
Stay the Same
Days To Come
We Could Forever
Between the Lines
Were you part of the glorious and perma-dancing Bonobo audience? What did you think of the show? Are there any other acts that you can recommend for Bonobo fans? Let KEXP know in the Comments section below!