A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Mail: PO Box 1556 | Burlington, VT 05402

Wrapup: An Horse & Kaki King @ Higher Ground 4/21/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows, New Releases

Written by Brendan

Thursday April 22, 2010

I’m definitely a sucker for advertising and the power of suggestion. So when I saw Higher Ground‘s facebook post about Kaki King and An Horse playing yesterday, I figured why not. I checked them both out on myspace and both had songs that I liked, and it was a bonus that the show started at 7:30 (what’s with Monkey House shows starting so late? I love music, but I’m getting old, and I love my sleep almost as much…).

An Horse was a song or two into their set when I arrived in the Showcase Lounge. There was a decent crowd for a Wednesday night show, and it was pretty diverse (Bassnectar was playing in the Ballroom and sold it out). Apparently Kaki King doesn’t attract the same audience that Erin McKeown does, which is what I was half-expecting (I was one of maybe 5 men at the last McKeown show at HG).

An Horse @ Higher Ground - Burlington, VT

Anyhow, An Horse is a two-person Australian sound machine (Kate Cooper on guitar & vocals, Damon Cox on drums & vocals). They showed flashes of Black Keys, leaving me looking around to see if any other instruments were being played offstage somewhere. Damon was at times a whirlwind, reminding me a bit of Paul Banwatt from Rural Alberta Advantage (who is a freaking maniac with drumsticks). His vocals were also a great addition to the band’s sound.

Kate Cooper’s dry Australian humor and stage banter made her all that more engaging. She is clearly bucking the increasing trend of homogenized/Americanized accents, creating a very unique sound with a fairly heavy Australian accent (“I” sounds like “oi” etc). She has a great singing voice and has written some compelling lyrics.

I love An Horse, and will definitely make it a point to see them again (hopefully headlining so I can hear more). Any two person band that makes that much sound and makes it sound so good is always a big draw.

On to Kaki King, who is as good on the guitar as people say she is. The photo above has her using a technique of slapping, plucking and thumping that I’ve never seen before. She also had some witty stage banter, and was on a mission to not allow her friend who was there taking photos to get a good shot (she kept sticking out her tongue or making ugly faces when the camera was in her face). But I just couldn’t get into her songs. Each time a new song started out I felt like I’d really be into it, but 30 seconds or so in, they all seemed to lose their muster.

I think that maybe an additional vocalist might help beef up what I think was the major factor in my disappointment, which was Kaki’s vocals. It’s not that she’s a bad singer – not at all – but the quality of her vocals just don’t match up with the quality of the accompanying music. I kept thinking that she’d make one hell of a lead guitarist and backup vocalist in someone else’s band (which is why I’m really excited about the record I bought – more below).

I also couldn’t get past whatever plastic newfangled wind instrument was being played along with the drums and guitar. It might be that the sound mix was off, but I didn’t feel like it was actually making any noise. It also made the guy playing it look like he was just writhing around on stage smoking out of some new-age bong. He had a trumpet on the ground next to him, and since I left early, I missed him playing it, but I just kept thinking how much better it would have been if he’d been playing it all along…

Kaki King @ Higher Ground - Burlington, VT

On my way out, I stopped by the merch table and added 3 news albums to this week’s music purchases: “Rearrange Beds” and “Beds Rearranged” EP from An Horse and “Black Pear Tree” EP on vinyl from The Mountain Goats and Kaki King. Both An Horse releases are wonderful, and I highly recommend their LP. I haven’t listen to “Black Pear Tree” yet, but I’m definitely brimming with anticipation at what has the potential to be an amazing collaboration.

Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

One Response to “Wrapup: An Horse & Kaki King @ Higher Ground 4/21/2010”

  1. Matt says:

    FYI…..Newfangled wind insrument was playing all the bass parts all night.