Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Foreign Born and BLK JKS Played The Independent: Pictures, Review

You may recall that last week we were hyped for the upcoming BLK JKS/Foreign Born show, and what's more had quite a high musical expectations for the event. Suffice it to say, we were not disappointed. Both bands of the co-headlining gig delivered killers sets that served to underscore and expand their sound - exactly the way it should be in a live setting. We walked out of the show feeling that each of these bands, with their diverse and direct sounds, is on the verge of something great.

Foreign Born was up first, and delivered a show that would easily have carried in a venue twice the size of The Independent. The lighting, the band's stage presence, and most of all the music: it was all so tightly knit that you got the distinct impression of a band that is just dying to deliver. There were no compromises, no slip ups: it was an expert rock show.

Front man Matt Popieluch managed to create a stage persona that was difficult to characterize, but completely magnetic to watch. We could attempt to characterize it by saying he was somewhere between Bowie, Dylan, and Beck. Needless to say, we enjoyed his performance and energy more than a little bit.

However, Popieluch was far from the band's only asset in the endeavor. Each member of the six piece unit contributed significantly and meaningfully to the intricately layered sound coming from the stage. The result was a performance that built significantly on their forthcoming record, and took it to the next level. In short, it was a riveting spectacle of polyrhythmic folk-pop-rock that left us wanting more. As in, now.

After Foreign Born delivered such a riveting set, it seemed like BLK JKS might have difficulty measuring up, but such was definitely not the case. The South African quartet delivered a blazing set of their own unique sound, and demonstrated quite clearly why the show was a co-headlining effort.

Perhaps the best way to describe BLK JKS live show is that everything is more present than on the record. While the record is delightfully experimental and filled with waves of sonic experimentation, the live show put much more emphasis on the dynamic of the band. In many ways the live show was a demonstration of the sonic foundation that had yielded the band's sound on tape.

The set also managed to demonstrate just how proficient BLK JKS are as musicians. The four had a clear rapport on stage, and the amount of visual and musical communication created a flow to the set that was intuitive and seamless. In short, it's obvious how the band can come up with such brilliant recordings: They have a musical rapport that transcends any song structure or standard writing guidelines. It's a change of pace that we welcome with open arms.

Like we said, this was a show that left us feeling as though both bands are on the verge of something big. Foreign Born has a full length on tap for release in June, and it's great, we assure you. BLK JKS currently have an EP out and about (yes, we bought the 12"), and are about to announce a forthcoming full length. There's no question that this is an exciting time in music, and these bands are doing some of the most exciting work out there. We can't recommend more strongly that you check them both out.

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive

mp3: Foreign Born - Vacationing People
mp3: BLK JKS - Lakeside