It was another frigid Friday night in downtown Toronto but South African band, Kongos, managed to sell out the Danforth Music Hall.
Colony House kicked off the night followed by California group, Sir Sly. Sir Sly are one of those bands that sound better live so Torontonians keep an eye out for when they come back (they promised soon) because they are a must-see. The indie pop band will especially resonate well with fans of The Neighbourhood and Alt-J.
Kongos appeared onstage at ten. The Kongos brothers are four tremendously talented men. On top of playing their own individual instruments, they took turns singing lead vocals. It’s rare when a band has two capable vocalists, let alone four. In true brotherly fashion, they were positioned in a straight line so that they could equally soak up the spotlight.
The only poor aspect of the night had little to do with the band. The audience could have been more devoted to the performance. During the band’s less popular songs, the chatter amongst the crowd was loud and incessant making it hard to concentrate on the music. During the song ‘Traveling On’, audience members catcalled the band when it was clearly meant to be an emotional piece. The band brushed it off afterwards, calling the catcallers immature and moving on. On the bright side, in true Canadian fashion, after each song the audience cheered loudly with the praise the band rightfully deserved.
The venue came alive during hits like ‘Come With Me Now’, ‘I Want to Know’ and best of all, ‘I’m Only Joking’. During ‘I’m Only Joking’ intense smoke machines blew out large rings of smoke unlike anything we’ve seen before. It was unusual and extremely wicked. Flashing white lights and pitch-black darkness during the dramatic pauses of the song intensified the performance. During slower tunes like ‘This Time I Won’t Forget’, videos of sandy beaches and sunny roads filled the screens behind the band. It offered the audience a much-needed summer-like atmosphere in this dreary February frost all while echoing their South African roots.
Kongos were in tune with one another, their sound was original and the music wasn’t just good, it was great. Their encore featured a cover of their father’s (John Kongos) hit, ‘Tokoloshe Man’ followed by a New Order cover. It might have been wiser to end the show with ‘I’m Only Joking’ as many audience members left during the encore. However, this goes back to the point about the halfhearted crowd. Of course, there were a handful of true Kongos fans that stayed until the very last moment of the show singing their hearts out. Kongos deserve more recognition but Lunatic is only their second studio album and they have room to add many more hits to their roster. These brothers definitely have more greatness up their sleeves.