For a band that formed in 2011 and released their first album less than a year ago, Hiatus Kaiyote has enjoyed a whirlwind of accomplishments in a remarkably short period of time: a backstage serenade of their own song “Nakamarra” by Erykah Badu at SXSW; a long and forceful reiteration of support from ?uestlove at his party at Brooklyn Bowl; a sold-out show at their debut performance in New York City.
Hiatus Kaiyote, comprised of Nai Palm, Simon Mavin, Perrin Moss and Paul Bender, is also a perfect example of the limited utility of the “genre” in characterizing an album’s sound or capturing its integrity. But nonetheless, the sources of inspiration for their music are unmistakable. “Atari” takes cues from Flying Lotus’s fractal spidering of digital sounds. The keyboard section on “Jekyll” draws inspiration from Fela Kuti and afrobeat. The woozy space sounds of “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk” are reminiscent of Erykah Badu’s latest album, New Amerykah Part 2. And Nai Palm herself sounds like a blend of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse.
Their inaugural performance at LPR was also remarkable for the depth and loyalty of the fan base they’ve already amassed. Here’s what some fans had to say of last night’s show:
Naikhoba Munabi: “The power of the performance was in the immersive experience. It felt like performance art. Each song individually carries its own weight, but the concert felt like a complete feast as opposed to just one ingredient or one meal. Also, sonically, their tones are extremely well refined so that no one artist is the star of the band. All four of them complimented each other so well and fit together seamlessly. When you listen to their music, it consumes you; I felt like I was a part of it.”
Alex Goldberg: “I was consistently blown away, and especially impressed with how they conveyed the album, and expanded on it live. They’re crazy good musicians, and play crazy beautiful music. I was really inspired musically during and after the show. I had my jazz face on the entire time, but one standout moment occurred during one of the beat interludes that they used to connect songs during the set. They had tons of noise and would cut out momentarily, all in synchrony: noiseeeee- break -noiseeeee -break- noiseeeeeee. It was amazing.”
Taja Cheek: “I thought Nai Palm was an incredible vocalist. I’d love to just listen to old soul records with her. You could tell she was trying out new parts and experimenting with her voice. She didn’t have any backup vocalists to link up with and the pressure was all on her. But she’s extraordinarily poised, and the opera singer really complimented her. It was also awesome to watch the jam sessions. They’re all straight jazz heads.”
Dan Kleederman: “I was blown away by the whole show–particularly how they always kept me on my feet. It seemed like any groove that was on the record was even bigger live; and, on top of that, they ended up adding new (and stankier) grooves left and right, and adding interludes. To my ears they seemed to heavily borrow from super pro R&B live performances in the style of a “revue” almost–sometimes only giving you snippets of grooves and material. I loved it. If my memory serves me correctly, the live version of “The World it Softly Lulls” was one example of them going through five more grooves/feels than they did on the record. The musicianship/entertainment factor was off the hook. Also, Nai Palm–damn, she did a great job as front woman. I believed her every step of the way. I heard about Hiatus via social media. I found them on a student’s post on the Facebook wall of a professor I had in college. The guy posted ?uestlove’s (amazing) tweet about them, and the music video for Nakamarra. When I heard the song, I thought “wait, this was made for me!”