I experienced Hiatus Kaiyote‘s headlining concert this past Tuesday night not as an even-handed critic but as an ardently adoring fan. They are, without a doubt, my favorite band, and the release of their highly anticipated sophomore album Choose Your Weapon only further confirms it. The Melbourne, Australia based four-piece craft a signature sound that’s seductive because it’s familiar: a clever, cosmopolitan medley of rock ‘n roll’s most striking and stimulating tributaries (funk, jazz, soul, punk, metal, R&B, to name a few). And they do it all with ease, grace, and absolute poise.
Tuesday night was the second of a two-night booking at Gramercy Theater (also the day of the new album’s official release), accompanied by Brooklyn’s emerging live hip-hop band Phony Ppl. Each night was sold out. Despite a few technical difficulties early in their set, the band delivered a bombastic set of uptempo dance jams.
Hiatus Kaiyote ran through standout tracks from Choose Your Weapon, anticipatory cuts released before the LP like “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk,” “Breathing Underwater,” “Molasses,” “By Fire,” and “Laputa.” The group also delivered eccentric, unfamiliar interludes between songs that showcased some of their left-leaning, experimental tendencies. The woozy four-alarm funk of “Swamp Thing”‘s drum and bass intro was used as an interlude in previous tours, but on Tuesday night the track was played in its glorious, soul-shaking entirety. Hiatus Kaiyote also unveiled a three-minute unreleased track, one highlight of the night’s impeccable set. The untitled track amped up the aggression of their sound to an impossible new degree. It was a blues-soaked, heavy metal surge of propulsive melodies and polyrhythmic beats, a generous shot of dopamine delivered straight to the cranium.
A gorgeously expansive rendition of “The World It Softly Lulls” was the last before a two-song encore. The first was “Atari,” which Nai Palm expressed a slight reluctancy to play because of its key-changing, clusterfuck-sensibility. Nevertheless, this track was among the most technically proficient and sonically dexterous numbers performed. The closing number was the high soaring ballad “Building A Ladder,” the concluding cut on Choose Your Weapon.
Watch videos of the set below.