Kero Kero Bonito Blow the Roof Off Elsewhere

Kero Kero Bonito on stage during their performance at Elsewhere in Brooklyn. (Photo by Jun Sung)

Kero Kero Bonito lit up the stage at Elsewhere on Oct. 17 with a performance that included an eclectic mix of pop bangers and their newer, guitar-driven tracks.

With the help of touring musicians Jennifer Walton, who switched between the drums and the sampler and guitarist James Rowland, Bonito revamped their tour sound with a fuller, live-instrumentation-driven set, effectively bringing a whole new aspect to their live-listening experience.

The band opened up with “Outside,” a track from their new album “Time ‘n’ Place,” setting the tone for what was to come next. As Gus Lobban showed off his drumming, Rowland’s exquisite guitar riffs and Jaime Bulled’s sleek bass lines filled the air, all while Sarah’s bubbly voice softened the instrumentation into bubblegum-pop-rock bliss. Soon after, the group played their hit song “Flamingo,” which set off a chain reaction in the audience as they sang along and head-bopped to the infectious melody.

Kero Kero Bonito played songs from all of their projects, which of course, vary dramatically in genre. Even with this diverse setlist, the band was still able to maintain their fun, playful core while consistently keeping our attention.

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Throughout the night, the band was able to intertwine every song smoothly with each other. One example of this is the transition between “Pocket Crocodile” and “Visiting Hours.” Though the two songs are so different in subject matter (the former about a literal pocket crocodile and the latter about Gus’ hospital visits to his dad), the band nevertheless still maintained their upbeat energy and kept the crowd dancing.

Initially, there was a slight doubt in my mind on whether the implementation of live instruments could translate to their bubblegum pop from “Intro Bonito” and “Bonito Generation.” This doubt was soon squashed when Lipslap’s use of live instruments elevated it to an unthinkable level. The aggressive drumming paired with Sarah’s light, joyful voice created an exquisitely refreshing rendition of the track that immediately won fans over. Kero Kero Bonito’s ability to remake their sugarysongs to include heavier instrumentation in a live setting flawlessly is something that sets them apart as performers.

“Picture This,” Bonito’s final performance before the encore, was certainly a standout track. The bright, sparkly synth sounds from Gus paired with intensely heavy drumming created stark contrasts that unexpectedly paired well together. The instrumentation in this song summed up exactly how the group mixed their old bubblegum pop roots with the live instruments. Both halves shined brightly without clashing.

During the encore, it seemed as if the band and the crowd’s energy turned up in unison. The energy in the room was through the roof as everyone jammed out to “Trampoline.” In fact, at the end, the energy had built up to the point where people started jumping on stage and danced the night away with the band.

Email Jun Sung at [email protected]

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