Performing for an intimate crowd of no more than 150 at Bob Clearmountain‘s dome-ceilinged studio in Santa Monica, Hiatus Kaiyote sounded like a double-rainbow-all-the-way-oh-my-god-so-beautiful-[cries]. This was the desired effect.
The first thing the audience noticed about the band was lead singer Nai Palm’s commading presence. Donning white leather boots, black tights with metallic knee caps, a tucked in graphic tee from their recent Japanese tour, and a pharaoh-esque gold crown with dog ears and loosely hanging chains, Palm’s outfit was the perfect visual metaphor for the band. As described, this sounds like a disaster; but the confluence of all these madcap and seemingly clashing elements worked immaculately.
Such is the modus operandi of Haitus Kaiyote, and during their performance they played their R&B indebted (Prince and Erykah Badu count themselves fans), yet genre defying compositions which take inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki (“Laputa”), Jet Li (“Shaolin Monk Motherfunk”), and a genuine fascination with nature (“Breathing Under Water”). Like a giant droplet of water sliding down a sheet of glass, each track split seamlessly from the previous song, lending the concert a holistically groovy feel. And to Perrin Moss’s uniquely intricate drum patterns, each member of the audience bounced and thrummed to their own vibration, each one of us in our own universe.
During the interview intermission between sets, host and KCRW DJ Aaron Byrd asked singer Nai Palm and bassist Paul Bender how the band likes to characterize their inscrutably groovy sound. After quipping that the band is trying to corner the “tinsel goth” market, Bender explained that the mission of the band is to beam with as much ballistic exuberance as that stoked guy from 2010’s “Double Rainbow” video. Discussing the recording process of the album, Palm recounted the time she tried to harmonize with an owl outside the studio–“you know how very good jazz musicians test you when you jam with them, that is exactly what the owl did to me.” This later would become an interlude on the album. And about gaining creative momentum while tracking the album, Palm said, “I felt like we got a Mario Super Star–you know, doo doo doo doo doo doo.”
I already considered myself a fan of the Australian band’s music, but watching Bender and Palm articulately and jocularly explain their love of music, consciousness, nature, video games, and Japanese culture, I found myself totally transfixed for the first time in a long time. You know those rare magnetically creative people that make you curious about how others perceive the world and how vastly different the possibilities of the cosmic experience may be? There are four of them in Hiatus Kaiyote, a quadruple rainbow.
KCRW will air Hiatus Kaiyote’s session on November 5, 2015. They will also release video of their entire cosmically enlightening performance, and we will be sure to share it with you.
All photos courtesy of Jeremiah Garcia via KCRW.