It’s been a busy year for Hiatus Kaiyote, who have toured relentlessly in support of their second album, Choose Your Weapon, which dropped this past May. They played SXSW in March, Glastonbury in June, and joined Chance the Rapper on his Family Matters Tour this fall, headlining some shows of their own on the dates in between. This past Saturday, the Australian quartet appeared at the sold-out Brooklyn Bowl for their final headlining date in a string of US performances.
Attending a Hiatus Kaiyote show is an ethereal experience. Their vibrant sound, self-described as “multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster shit,” is freshly innovative, too otherworldly to be confined to a box. Their show is less like a setlist and more like a narrative, an uninhibited exploration of wondrous soundscapes possessing chameleon-like tendencies, effortlessly morphing between hip hop, soul, r&b, jazz, electronic, and rock.
Taking the stage to chants of, “HIATUS! HIATUS,” the band opened with the title track from Choose Your Weapon, which has the feel of a video game revving up in anticipation of a new and exciting adventure. Through gritty beats and cosmic-sounding voices, they wasted no time transporting us all to another universe, one that featured a wide selection of songs from their newest album. Smiling in acknowledgement of the audience, singer Nai Palm thanked everyone for coming to the show and indicated that they were very happy to be there that night.
Palm’s onstage demeanor was passionate, yet gracious, filled with smiles and stories about the various songs she sang. You could really sense her feeding off of the crowd’s adoration toward her band. “I wrote this song as a tribute to Stevie Wonder,” she announced before leading into “Breathing Underwater” with her brightly toned guitar. Having grown up singing along with Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin records, these influences are quite apparent in Palm’s spiritedly soulful vocals. “We have the best fans. The other night we had a fan give us a music box that played this song,” she gushed before they burst into “Laputa,” a glittering, drifting track composed in homage to Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, as the audience sang along with every word.
In addition to their awesomely eclectic, innovative style, Hiatus Kaiyote’s extremely tight musicianship makes them a real standout in the sea of new music out today. This was especially evident in “Jekyll,” which starts off as a smooth, jazzy number, then gives way to an Afrobeat-infused interlude before an ending that’s straight up funk. Drummer Perrin Moss backflips between time signatures on a dime, making it seem easier than flipping the channel on a remote. He changes tempos at will with metronomic precision, injecting each track with an old-school pulse so strong it’s impossible not to find yourself nodding along to the beat. Simon Mavin’s spiraling keyboard and synth grooves add quite the orchestral dynamic to their performance, completed by a series of silky smooth bass lines laid down by Paul Bender.
With such an intricately layered, multi-dimensional sound, it’s no surprise that even Prince has invited this amazingly talented band to jam at his house. Their songs uniquely showcase their musical influences, carefully incorporating them in an interesting and complex manner to create something new that is truly out of this world. Defying all genre limitations, Hiatus Kaiyote is one of the most impressive new acts to come around in a long time and their live show is certain leave you awestruck as you exit the room.
Article: Nicole Shyti