Soul singer, and labelmate Szjerdene surprised and dazzled the audience walking out onto the stage in her sparkling gold on black dress only the truly classy could pull off. Supporting his new album, The North Borders, Bonobo’s tour came through, and easily sold out Vancouver’s legendary concert hall, the Commodore Ballroom.
Opening rock duo, El Ten Eleven from Los Angeles played their form of progressive post-rock utilizing a lot of looping and loads of other guitar effects to create a full sound. Reconstructing their songs from the ground up, guitarist, Kristian Dunn played a double neck guitar/bass that was as big as he was. Running up and down both necks, the instrument created a huge range for the band. Not to mention his playing style, constantly tapping melodies that fluttered like butterflies. Sometimes Kristian had his left hand fingering the bass while the right hand was over hand tapping the guitar, what a talent! Drummer, Tim Fogarty also used electronics to loop and trigger electronic drum machine sounds. These musicians had impeccable chemistry, especially highlighted by the moment Tim walked off his drums, got on his knees in front of Kristian and started playing the bass strings with his sticks, something I have never seen before, and quite frankly the most memorable part of their set. Considering how far apart El Ten Eleven’s style was different from Bonobo’s, they received a very enthusiastic response from the crowd, clearly mesmerized by all the different sounds and intricate rhythms flurrying from just two guys on stage.
It’s common for headlining bands with complicated setups and many musicians to hire an opening band that is much smaller. Although Bonobo is really just one producer/DJ named Simon Green from the UK, famed as one of the “new pioneers of downtempo,” his live set has become quite the spectacle and production. Featuring a keyboardist, flute/horn/clarinetist, guitarist, drummer, singer and himself playing midi controllers, drum pads, keyboards and the bass, this was an epic show packed with room for improvisation, and extended solos.
Kicking off the set with the ever so catchy and organically flavoured house track, Cirrus off his new album, the crowd started dancing and talking about how much they love Bonobo. Unfortunately, no matter how intimate and special the show wanted to go, the talking amongst immature frat party kids never stopped. On the other hand, the musicians were all top notch, and the entire show went off without a single notable hitch, which is very surprising considering how many things on stage could have gone wrong. Absolute professionals on every level.
Since Bonobo’s electronic tracks have all types of different permutations of instrumentation, certain musicians stepped off the stage for certain songs, and came back for others, a cool way of switching up the dynamic, and playing with different sounds and possibilities. At one point everyone except Bonobo was on stage and performed a short, but sweet DJ set, which got the sound system totally banging and the crowd surrendering to the bass.
-Review by Bag