Vocalist of Kero Kero Bonito sings to the crowd, with the guitarist on the left and the rest of the band on the right. There are blue and purple stage lights flashing in the background

Kero Kero Bonito at Paper Tiger

By Faith Vara
Music Journalist

On Thursday night, Kero Kero Bonito, alongside opener Negative Gemini, brought the heat to a cold, rainy night at Paper Tiger. Despite the temperature being in the mid 40s, a long line of fans waited outside the venue for hours, all eager to see the show. Once we were all let in, fans started heading to the stage in an effort to get a good spot for the show, and to start warming up.

The show opened up with Negative Gemini, the project of Los Angeles singer-songwriter and producer, Lindsey French. Before attending the concert, I had only ever heard of the name Negative Gemini but I had never taken the time to indulge into their music.

However, after Thursday night, I can now say they’ve gained a new fan. As soon as Lindsey and company started performing, I was immediately intrigued by the hardcore breakbeats, jacking house and relaxed synth-pop sounds they were producing. 

The vocalist of Negative Gemini sings to the crowd, with the bassist and drummer on her right.
Negative Gemini performing at Paper Tiger. Image by Matthew Moreno.

As each song passed, I was waiting to hear one I didn’t enjoy; but alas, that didn’t happen. And I wasn’t the only one who became very invested in the show. The crowd also became more and more invested as her performance went on.

At one point the crowd became so engaged with the performance that one might’ve thought Negative Gemini was the headliner of the show. If her engaging 90s’-influenced sound wasn’t enough to grab the crowd’s attention, then her charisma on stage definitely was.

When she wasn’t playing the guitar, French would frequently interact with the audience and even ended up crowd surfing by the end of her set. I became so invested in their performance that I was almost eager for the show to be over so I could go home and listen to more of their music. Without a doubt, Negative Gemini’s performance set the bar for the night, and I was excited to see what the rest of the show had in store.

During the intermission between performances, I could feel the energy of the room building up. Those around me became so eager to experience Kero Kero Bonito’s performance that they kept inching closer to the stage until it was finally time for them to perform.

As soon as they took the stage, the crowd roared with excitement and I became engulfed in one of the most energetic atmospheres I have ever experienced. The performance opened up with “Battle Lines” and it seemed as though everyone in the room knew every line to every song. It wasn’t until they played “Flamingo” that the excitement reached a new level.

Before the song even started, the crowd chanted with happiness when singer Sarah Perry lifted a stuffed flamingo up into the air. From there on out, the audience sang along to every song louder than I have ever heard before.

Vocalist of Kero Kero Bonito sings and holds up a stuffed flamingo on stage, with the rest of the band performing in the background.
Kero Kero Bonito performing “Flamingo” at Paper Tiger. Image by Matthew Moreno.

One interesting aspect of the performance that I think kept the audience engaged was the sound clips between each song. After each song ended, a short sound clip would play and lead into the next song.

Perry and other members of the group would also slip in their own phrases into these sound bites, and would say things like “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good” and “please give us the power to blow people’s minds with our high voltage rock.” I had never attended a show where every space of time was filled with sound. 

As the night wound down and the group began playing their closing songs, it was apparent that the crowd wasn’t ready for the party to end just yet. After the final song was played and Kero Kero Bonito cleared the stage, the inevitable ‘one more song’ chant began.

Many hardcore fans of the group shouted for them to play a cover of Death Grips’ “I’ve Seen Footage,” which is a track they’ve performed in the past. As a Death Grips fan myself, I was also hoping they’d play the cover, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

After the chanting went on for a few minutes, the group finally came back on stage and began playing a cover of U2’s “Vertigo.” Considering how different Kero Kero Bonito’s sound is from U2, I was definitely surprised to hear them cover one of their songs. However, they certainly did the song justice and it became one of the most lively performances of the night. 

Vocalist of Kero Kero Bonito plays a synthesizer with the rest of the band playing along with her.
Kero Kero Bonito performing at Paper Tiger. Image by Matthew Moreno.

The show finally ended with a crowd favorite, “Trampoline.” After an hour-long performance, you would think both the band and the crowd would have nothing left to give. Yet, the liveliness of the room carried on till the very end.

Immediately after “Trampoline” had ended, the group continued to play a variation of loud and avante-garde sounds. One of the members of the group even began to scream into the microphone, which made for a very puzzling yet interesting experience that kept my attention the whole way through. 

After the show had ended, I was faced with the harsh reality that occurs after just about every concert: now I have to go back to real life. I think this show, and just concerts in general, have such a special ability to let you escape the problems of real life even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

I think this performance in particular had a lasting after effect because of how much everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves. Everyone in attendance radiated some of the most wholesome and purest energy I’ve ever witnessed, and the entire atmosphere of the music, the crowd and even the cold weather made this a night I will never forget.

Featured image by Matthew Moreno.

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