Los Angeles – With a sold-out crowd that was every bit as diverse and eclectic as the headliner’s set list, Hiatus Kaiyote spent the evening dropping tracks from their breakout debut LP as well as this year’s Choose Your Weapon. The Australian band has gained a ton of momentum since releasing their sophomore album earlier this month to widespread critical acclaim and has seen their fan-base reach ever-larger proportions. That much was apparent on Wednesday night when KCRW’s own Anthony Valadez was barely able to squeeze in an introduction for the band before a deafening roar washed over The Roxy.
Hiatus Kaiyote was a Featured Artist for Best New Bands back in 2013 following the release of their breakthrough debut, Tawk Tomahawk.
While known for packing the stage with background singers and additional musicians, for their most recent Los Angeles appearance Haitus Kaiyote took a relatively stripped-down approach. Led by the colorful and magnetic performance of singer and guitarist Nai Palm, the band performed as a foursome with a bassist, drummer and keyboardist. Despite having a few less members on the stage, the band’s sound was still lush and full of depth, creating neo-soul soundscapes woven together with the one-of-a-kind vocal expressionism that has become Nai Palm’s trademark.
After Valadez brought the band out onto stage, Hiatus Kaiyote launched into a quirky, mostly instrumental, introduction that had enough tempo to get the audience moving. Following the intro, Nai Palm picked up her hollow-body guitar to kick off the flittering and mantra-filled “Breathing Underwater”. Being a standout from the band’s recent release, the crowd instantly recognized the track and if it was even possible, managed to create an even more deafening roar.
Hiatus Kaiyote wisely chose to save their most recognizable song for later in the night. By the middle of their set the foursome had the crowd melting into their soulful atmosphere, allowing each audience member to feel the full effect this neo-soul classic. From Nai Palm’s thick guitar tones and soothing vocals to the warm keyboard lines that floated on throughout the hook and polyrhythmic quality of the drum work, “Nakamarra” incited the audience to groove in a manner few songs are capable of.
The rest of the set consisted of tracks from Choose Your Weapon, including “Molasses”, “Borderline with My Atoms”, and “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk”. Respectively running from piano-based soul-jazz to hip-hop/R&B indebted slow-jamming and then back to their signature time-signature hopping neo-soul, each song provided a new atmosphere and vibe to the jam-packed dance floor of The Roxy.
While Nai Palm is most widely recognized for her impressive range and expressive voice, she is also an incredibly underrated guitar player. While none of the songs were based around her guitar virtuosity, she showed an uncanny knack for warbling through her scales while simultaneously playing a separate-yet-complementary polyrhythmic guitar line. Song after song, Nai Palm and the rest of the band were flawless in their performance.
Before Hiatus Kaiyote took the stage and really packed the fans into The Roxy, solo artist Low Leaf gave the audience an eye-opening performance with her electric harp and several electronic loop machines. Blending the danceable electronica of Grimes with the neo-soul boho-hippy vibe of TheeSatisfaction (…or Hiatus Kaiyote), her set was quite impressive musically, filled with a few over-the-top “ be one with the universe” lyrical moments.
Hiatus Kaiyote will continue on in support of Choose Your Weapon through the summer; their tour features stops throughout the United States in May and June as well as a string of European dates throughout the month of July.