Kaki King - The Bakery
Kaki King is one of those musicians that no matter who you are you will appreciate her. As such, a diverse crowd descended on The Bakery on a freezing Saturday night in Northbridge. Everyone from 18 year old hipsters to what seemingly looked like a lawyer and his wife tried to stay warm by having a pint or three whilst waiting for the guitar virtuoso to take the stage. This was no great hassle though, as The Bakery when quiet is a pretty cool venue to just have a sit (on their “unique” furniture) and chat.
Kaki King is a guitarist, singer/songwriter and composer from Atlanta in the United States. She has released 6 full length albums as well as appearing on a Foo Fighters album (check out the 'Ballad of Beaconsfield Miners'), splitting EPs with The Mountain Goats and composing for movies such as “August Rush” and “Into The Wild”. She is known for her outrageous guitar skills, adventurous and complex compositions and sugar-sweet voice. “Rolling Stone” recently stated that she is “a genre unto herself”. It’s a big wrap but probably not quite true. She has followed in footsteps of guitarists such as the late great Michael Hedges but has continued to push the genre into more interesting directions. Still, in the swelling world of music. She’s certainly a rare beast. Like a unicorn with a heap of cool guitars.
Kaki strode confidently onto stage just before 9 to polite applause. The lack of support was slightly disappointing, but hey, at least we didn’t have to worrying about our car getting locked into some carpark that shut at midnight. Without much messing around she jumped straight into the business of blowing our minds with her stunning playing. Within about 10 seconds every person in the room had a smile on their face. That’s really the only thing you can do when seeing Kaki. She’s that good. Just stand there. Shut Up. Smile. And enjoy it.
A large proportion of the material she played was brand spanking new. This tour was in support of her recently released album 'Glow'. Interestingly, this is her first instrumental record since her excellent second album 'Legs to Make us Longer'. The large majority of the new songs were absolutely superb. It’s clear her composition skills have progressed over her 10 year career. The songs were complex and technical but maintained a wonderful sense of melody. She has a terrific understanding of dynamics and rhythm as well; something that sets her apart from many similar guitarists.
Another thing that sets her apart from your “everyday” guitar whiz is her willingness to experiment with different guitars, added instrumentation and effects. Kaki used a total of 4 guitars on the night, including a 7 string, a small 12 string guitar (tuned an octave higher than usual), a standard steel string and the most interesting of the lot, a guitar which has been kitted out with a VO-96, an invention that is essentially an acoustic guitar synthesiser. The effect that was produced from this was completely unique and a joy to listen to. Especially when used with her performance of 'Goby'.
Music aside, it became apparent during the show that Kaki also has a very quirky, cheeky sense of humour. Her thoughts on the cost of things in Australia were particular amusing (“Seven bucks for a coffee?!!! And a dollar for the lid?! Oh fuck you!”). Her frequent chats with the crowd were great as 2 hours of her playing solid, while brilliant, may have got a little monotonous.
As far as standout songs go, the always awesome 'Playing with Pink Noise' was a worthy closer. The equally rambunctious 'Magazine' was another standout of the more dynamic songs, whilst the mellow 'Night After Sidewalk' was beautifully performed. Of the new material, 'Streetlight in the Egg' and 'Great Round Burn' were excellent, as was the celtic-esque 'King Pizel'. The only two songs performed with vocals ('Jessica' and 'Sunnyside') were also a nice change of pace. Check out the first single from “Glow”; 'Great Round Burn' below.
It’s not often that you see a solo performer that has as much individual talent as most bands combined but that is exactly the case with Kaki King. A consummate performer, astounding guitarist and excellent songwriter and composer, she is a once in a generation musician and one I urge you to see when you next get the chance.