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Kongos at Crescent Ballroom, 7/20/12

See more photos in our full Kongos at Crescent Ballroom slideshow.
See more photos in our full Kongos at Crescent Ballroom slideshow.
Melanie Mathieu

Kongos Crescent Ballroom Friday, July 20, 2012

See also: Kongos Are Huge in South Africa -- Is Phoenix Next? See also: Kongos on the Cutting Room Floor See also: Take Cover: The Rolling Blackouts Cover the Kongos

So it looks like not even the transplanted Phoenix-via-South Africa rock 'n' roll band Kongos knew just how big their "local" contingency had grown.

The four brothers, born to popular '70s South African singer-songwriter John Kongos, have been plugging away at their own music legacies over the years, starting with a meteoric rise on South African airwaves thanks to a slew of singles off of their latest album, Lunatic, and culminating in last night's official album release party hosted by local radio station KWSS 106.7 FM and Last Exit Live.

"Who are all of you people?" bassist/singer Dylan asked early in their set. "We had no idea we had this kind of love, so thank you."

See the full Kongos at Crescent Ballroom slideshow here.

IAMWE
IAMWE
Melanie Mathieu

The Valley's "true hipsters," as radio personality Beef Vegan called the crowd, didn't wait for last night's headliners to show the stage with adoration, packing the Crescent early enough to catch the event's impressive undercard. Bolstered by local bands Future Loves Past, IAMWE, and Banana Gun, concertgoers were abuzz before Kongos even took the stage.

Beef Vegan of course was referring to the band's Phoenix following, one he's helped nurture on with morning program, The Morning Infidelity, before the band's 2011 game-changing South Africa tour.

 

Kongos face a packed house.
Kongos face a packed house.
Melanie Mathieu

After a stirring introduction, the brothers launched into, "It's A Good Life," setting their big sound tone with thudding percussion, accordion squeezes and melodic vocal harmonies. Fans had plenty to cheer about throughout the night as the group moved from languid pop-rock songs like "Escape," to wall-shakers like "Kids These Days."

They kept a light hearted mood, joking with the crowd and showing their appreciation for their supporters often. "Have you had enough to drink," Dylan asked. "The more you drink, the better we sound."

Drunk or not, it was a powerful show, with pulsating drums, driving guitars, haunting accordion splashes and catchy hooks.

There were plenty of highlights during the set with fan-favorite tracks like, "This Time I Won't Forget," and closers, "Come With Me Now," and "I'm Only Joking." But by far one of the best moments of the night was when rapper Moe'z Art and Beef Vegan joined the group on stage to rattle off some freestyle verses while the band played a cover of The Beatles, "Come Together" over Leon Haywood's, "I Want'a Do Something Freaky to You." (You might have recognized the beat better as "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang.")

After a little more than an hour Kongos capped off the evening with a two song encore which included covers of The Beatles "A Day in the Life," and their father's "Tokoloshe Man."

We asked earlier this week if Phoenix would be the next market on the brothers' radar after seemingly conquering South Africa. I think it's safe to say they have Phoenix covered right now.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Kongos at Crescent

The Crowd: "True hipsters"

Approximate Set List:

It's a Good Life Hey I Don't Know (Why Don't You Tell Me?) Sex on the Radio Escape Kids these Days This Time I Won't Forget Take Me Back Come Together Come With Me Now I'm Only Joking

Encore:

A Day in the Life Tokoloshe Man

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miles
Crescent Ballroom

308 N. 2nd Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

602-716-2222

www.crescentphx.com


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