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Sunday, December 17

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Concert Mon May 16 2011

Of Vinyl and Koalas

While it's an old hip-hop trope to cajole the audience to raise their hands in the ay-yer, I can safely say that Kid Koala's show at the Abbey Pub last Saturday was the first time I've seen an entire audience of adults stretch their hands to the ceiling to emulate growing bean stalks.

From the get-go, Kid Koala, aka Montreal-based turntablist Eric San, made it clear that the night was going to take an interesting turn. "I want to get away from the dance floor," he said, referencing his career, which certainly hasn't followed a normal house DJ trajectory. While he's certainly capable of weaving unlikely samples together into a riotous dance fest, he tends to veer toward unlikely caches, including brassy jazz, swampy bayou blues, shredder guitar rock, and atmospheric space trips. He opened his set with slides from his graphic novel, animated storyboards from a breakdance cartoon he's illustrating, and previews of other musical projects.

Afterward, Kid Koala ran offstage and reappeared a moment later in a ridiculously endearing koala costume; for the rest of the evening, his giant grey ears flopped about as he bounced and sang along to the samples he spun. Ingeniously, a video camera was trained on his three turntables -- a visual effect that was half the fun of watching him perform live. Unfortunately, the night wasn't without its hiccups -- there were ongoing problems with one of the (rented) turntables, which resulted in some missed cues. While he expressed some frustration with the turncoat deck, Kid Koala simply apologized and plowed through.

Over the course of the two-and-a-half-hour set, Kid Koala played a lot of fan favorites including "Hanky Spanky," "Drunk Trumpet," and his gorgeous, space-age version of "Moon River," as sung by Ms. Audrey Hepburn in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. A few songs were tossed in from his work with The Slew, his balls-out rock collaboration with members of Wolfmother, and he also spun a track that he claimed was his two-year-old daughter's favorite: A ridiculously cute ditty he worked up for the way-cool children's TV show, "Yo Gabba Gabba." Singing along to the song, the renowned DJ, who has worked with the likes of Gorillaz, Radiohead and Bjork, came to the front of the stage and showed everyone how to grooooow like bean stalks. And even though we were all of drinking age, we obediently reached for the sky and grew.

That's not to say the Kid's all goofiness, but his sense of levity is certainly a part of his appeal. When done well, turntablism is energizing and fascinating as it provides a chance for people to watch the fast-paced alchemy of beatmaking. In an era where so many computer-bound DJs stand in front of an audience while they appear to check their e-mails, it's refreshing to see a DJ that not only performs on a multimedia and physical level, but one that's clearly having the time of his life.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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