One would think in this modern musical climate full of sonic polyglots that there’d be more bands like Kongos, but the South African brothers have tapped into a singularly unique sound- one that they showed off during their performance at the Velvet Underground this past Saturday.
Their supporting act also reflected this sound. Ascot Royals are much heavier, louder fare than what’s heard from most openers at modern rock shows nowadays. In fact the local band sounds more like the post-hardcore bands from a decade ago than any current artist, albeit with a few modern flourishes like synths. Singer Jimmy Chaveau was very charming throughout the whole set, and thoroughly warmed up the crowd with singalong hooks. One standout was “Best is Yet to Come”, a slice of 2000s-style alternative rock with a muscular guitar hook to match.
Kongos came out to an incredibly eager crowd that had been chanting their name for a good half hour and immediately began to deliver the aforementioned hard-rock/indie-rock fusion that people love them for. Starting with the rambunctious “Hey I Don’t Know”, the band cycled through high energy jams from their few records, including the just-released Egomaniac. Several covers also made their way into the set, including two Beatles covers (“Eleanor Rigby” and “Come Together”, both complete with a guest rap verse) and a rendition of the New Order classic “Blue Monday”.
The brothers swapped vocal duties for several song, with all four contributing at one point. Drumming and singing lead is an impressive feat, and Jesse Kongos pulls it off incredibly well. Meanwhile guitarist and bassist Daniel and Dylan provide chunky, 70s rock riffs and Johnny shreds on the accordion, all combined with contemporary touches like keyboards, samples, and other effects. It can’t be stressed enough how unique the sound is, particularly on moodier cuts like “Escape”.
Of course this is what’s brought the brothers worldwide fame with songs like “Come With Me Now”, “I’m Only Joking” and “Take It From Me”, all massive singles that were received with open arms by the crowd. The cozy venue was sweaty to begin with but by the end of the night sweatiness levels were through the roof. It was a good kind of sweaty though, the kind that comes from being amped up by a band fueled by rock n’ roll adrenaline.