Published Aug 08, 2013Arriving in Toronto on a wave of a buzz that has seen them name-checked and co-signed by a slew of influential names including Gilles Peterson, Erykah Badu, Questlove and Dirty Projectors, anticipation for the debut Toronto show of Melbourne future-soul quartet Hiatus Kaiyote was palpably high.
Hitting the stage just after 10pm to a packed room, the group confidently displayed their self-styled brand of 'multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster shit' to an audience of satisfied punters.
Fronted by the ever-smiling, guitar-wielding singer Nai Palm, who sported a pair of banana earrings and a "Fingertips"-era Stevie Wonder T-shirt, the group launched right into "Lace Skull" from their debut album, Tawk Tomahawk, and never looked back. On record, the group comes off as loose and improvisational in their approach. In a live setting, this approach heightens the experience, with the deliciously offbeat drumming of Perrin Moss, Korg-manning Simon Mavin and nimble bassist Paul Bender often interlocking into a hypnotic groove obviously equally inspired by the likes of J. Dilla and Radiohead.
"Nakamarra," the group's most recognizable and instantly infectious track came surprisingly early in their set and led to a sing along for the group's most devout followers packed up at the front of the venue. But any ideas that the group had peaked too early were quashed as the group's inclination to navigate entertaining detours, tempo changes and extended versions bore addictively hypnotic fruit. The group managed to avoid incessant and self-indulgent noodling; the tried and true live motif of individual solos was noticeably absent in this show, in service of the communal groove.
Above all of this, Nai Palm's voice was in noticeably fine form, soaring while delivering a memorable versions of "Malika" and new track "Breathing Underwater," presumably from their upcoming new album. They answered the understandably raucous call for an encore with the self-explanatory "Shaolin Monk Motherfunk."