I’m never quite sure how to describe Hiatus Kaiyote to people. It usually just ends in me throwing a bunch of adjectives at the other person before forcing my headphones towards them so they can hear the beauty for themselves. I spied a Facebook comment that summed them up as ‘Grammy nominated Australian Neo-Soul gods’, so we’re gonna go with that because it’s closer than anything I can come up with.
Thanks to bike woes I missed the first support act, JAALA, but a dedicated Spotify listening session was enough for me to know I missed out on something ace. Keep an eye on her FB to spot when she’s playing in Melbourne next (or wherever you may be).
I entered the Evelyn just as three synchronized swaying ladies begin chanting an introduction for Sampa the Great– that intro is still stuck in my head, and not leaving anytime soon. Sampa was amazing. Like, a mind-blowingly arranged set, with her rapping and bouncing around with so much energy that it was infectious. And her songs were so positive, reminding ladies that they were Queens and deserved to be treated as such, and one that repeated “I’m great. You’re great. We great.”, which has become my personal mantra. The band was just as wired and happy, and the supporting singers had some of the greatest dance moves, dropping out of view with beats, swaying like pro’s– If you can’t tell, I’m in love with everyone that was on that stage. Sampa the Great will be seeing me in her next Melbourne audience.
The crowd was ready for Hiatus Kaiyote. All of us. All of us. By this I hint there were a LOT of people, I saw no less than three people being carried out of the audience having trouble breathing from the heat and lack of space. I got my Instagram shot up near the front in the first song and decided to try and stay alive by heading towards the back (hurrah for being tall-ish). As soon as they started playing though, everyone faded away.
This show was the end of their almost completely sold out national Choose Your Own Weapon tour, but they’re not gonna have a nap now– they’ve got another 10 countries to cover in the next two months. I’m not sure what they gave to a mystical being to get the gift of being able to put on such amazing shows so damn often– but it was a worthy sacrifice. Hiatus Kaiyote are true pro’s at their art. They played an amazing setlist that included the title track of their new album (and the tour), a song about Hayao Miyazaki’s amazing films, and one of the crowd favourites, By Fire. All of the music is so well thought out, every bass line and synth melody, and rolling drums tying everything together. With Nai Palm’s amazingly smooth voice and vocalising swaying across each track, listening to them live just turns into a transfixing experience. I found myself swaying far more than usual, focused completely on the synths and picking out delicate features of each song I’d never noticed before. Nai sang the praises of the Evelyn Hotel and the start it helped give them in the form of musical residencies.
Add in yet another kickass 3-part backing crew of flawless vocalists (although with slightly less synchronised dancing), one of whom had a song dedicated to her mum in the audience, which was a bit cute. Each person on stage got their solo slot at the end, and as the crowd applauded their little hands off, it was an overwhelming feeling of being in the presence of some of the greatest musicians this city has produced.
Hiatus Kaiyote have just launched their new album, Choose Your Own Weapon, and it’s an amazing listen– check it out here! I’m sure they’ll be back on our shores soon with another bunch of amazing shows for you all to feast on.
Jasmin Ashton is a PR student and designer from Melbourne who has a lot of feelings about pretty much everything and a need to share them. Find her at @Jasmanna.