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

Mail: PO Box 1556 | Burlington, VT 05402

Wrapup: k-os @ Higher Ground Ballroom, 5/1/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows

Written by Brendan

Monday May 3, 2010

I pre-bought two tickets to the k-os show, in the hopes that someone would come with me. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out (which I guess doesn’t surprise me – not many of the people I know here have much of an interest in hip-hop, and nobody had heard of k-os). So I headed out solo.

I got there about 9:15 (doors opened at 8), and I walked in to an almost entirely empty Ballroom. As in literally 15 people, tops. There was a DJ onstage and 1 or 2 people out on the floor. I can’t say that I was expecting a sold out show, but I definitely wasn’t expecting an empty one either. The first opening act tried to get people interested, beckoning for everyone to come up to the front (there were maybe 20 or 25 people by then), and most people obliged. Unfortunately, the DJ had technical difficulties, one of the MCs didn’t actually perform on any songs, and the one who did was less than stellar, so the energy died down pretty quickly. Underwhelming is a the kindest description I can offer.

Next up was iLL iNTELLEKs, and for two white kids from Vermont, they were OK. But they didn’t deserve to share a stage with k-os, even if less than 100 tickets were sold.

By the time k-os took the stage, there were maybe 70 or 80 people there. Despite such a pathetic turnout, everyone gathered up front and the majority seemed genuinely engaged. Most of the songs played were from his 2009 release “Yes!” though I definitely heard at least one from “Exit” and one from “Atlantis – Hymns for Disco.” All in all, I was really impressed with his performance and just wish Burlington could’ve made it worth his while to come play here, in the hopes that he’d come back. Unfortunately, I’m pretty confident that will not be happening.

k-os @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

k-os definitely looks the part for a self-described indie hip-hopper. His skinny, tapered jeans were tucked into his high-top boots. Under his denim jacket was a sleeveless Broken Social Scene hoodie which was pulled up over a beanie that covered his thick mass of dreads. And he left his big aviator shades on for most of the show. He also seemed to enjoy the VT beer that someone in the audience handed him just after he took the stage (though he sure did nurse it!).

k-os @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

He is an impressive multi-instrumentalist, playing acoustic and electric guitar, keyboard/piano as well as harmonica (when’s the last time you saw from a hip-hop artist?). He also has a good singing voice (“No auto-tune there” he said after belting out the refrain to one of his songs) which makes for a much more dynamic show than your typical hip-hop act. He was accompanied by a turntablist and a guitarist (who played both electric and acoustic guitars and sang on a few occasions).

k-os @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

I was essentially standing front-and-center which made for some good photos and definitely had me very engaged. Thanks to those standing around me for realizing that with such a sparse audience, there was no need for pushing, shoving or jostling for position. I was able to comfortably “dance” the entire show which is always nice (I’ve never seen myself do it, but my guess is that my dancing looks something a little bit closer to “thrashing about”).

I hope to catch k-os again at some point, preferably playing to a much larger audience with a lot more energy.

k-os @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

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.

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