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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, May 25

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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 »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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