Kero Kero Bonito
October 11, 2019 at Paradise Rock Club
Kero Kero Bonito exists at an interesting intersection of the experimental, noise pop, and bubblegum pop genres. There is no better way of imagining what their fan base would consist of than going to a show. Upon entering the venue, Boston’s own Paradise Club, attendees found themselves surrounded by an extremely diverse crowd ready for an energetic night of interesting music and entertaining antics from the performers.
Opening for the British band was LA-based and (usually) solo project Negative Gemini. Her brand of loud, bass heavy, and snappy yet drony alt-pop was compelling, bolstered by a skillful band and good sound. Her set lasted around 40 minutes before the awaited headliners came on stage. Instead of the standard lineup of Sarah, Gus, and Jamie, the band was accompanied by drummer Jennifer Walton and guitarist James Rowland. Opening their set with the relatively new “Battle Lines”, they instantly established a definite sonic difference between their album and live performances, the original bubblegum pop sound was now tinged by hard rock with the live guitarist and drummer. However, this was not a detriment given their fantastic show. The band played tracks from their whole discography, with hits from Intro Bonito, Bonito Generation, Time n’ Place, and singles like “Flamingo” booming throughout the venue. Hearing songs like “Sick Beat” and “Pocket Crocodile” from IB along with “Lipslap” and “Break” from BG backed by a live band definitely gave the audience a chance for a new appreciation of the tracks, as well as making them feel more fresh.
Another aspect of the show that made it uniquely entertaining was their humor. Simply put, the show was just funny at points, starting with Gus giving a shout-out to a Chinese restaurant in the area. While the other members would be playing, Jamie would be plucking at the bass with a silly face, moving like a member of an animatronic band at some cursed children’s birthday party venue. Gus and Sarah would be acting out the skits using props at the end of songs such as “Break”, one example being Sarah talking into a toy telephone to Gus and Jamie telling them that she did not want to do anything today. Between songs, there were intentional periods of silence where Gus and Sarah would mess with each other. About midway through the set, you could hear Gus play the iconic Harry Potter theme, to which a crowd member yelled “WHAT HOUSE ARE YOU SARAH?”, which Sarah coyly replied with “Slytherin” then started the next song.
Sarah continued the shenanigans during songs like “Flamingo” and “Pocket Crocodile”, holding up stuffed versions of each animal and conducting the crowd with a random stick during “Sometimes”. Crowd interactions were also top-notch, with almost every person singing along loudly (and accurately) to each song. Shouts of “I LOVE YOU SARAH!” occurred every couple of songs (to which Sarah responded after the fourth time). Once the show ended, the passionate crowd started to chant for an encore, to which the band obliged. Their first encore song was a cover of U2’s “Vertigo”, followed by a minute-long cover of Boston’s “More than a Feeling”, concluding with an explosive, punk/hard rock rendition of their own “Trampoline”, and the crowd went wild. The excitement brought by the audience matched the high energy of the band, which made for an extremely entertaining and engaging concert that anyone should make the effort to see given the opportunity.