Kongos have released another set of stunning songs and decided to explore another human condition in their Lunatic follow up album, Egomaniac. Although Egomaniac keeps that distinct Kongos sound, catchy rock with heavy drums influenced by African drummers of burundi, this new album is definitely an evolution. With these 13 new tracks comes a distinctly more pronounced electronic influence and all around bigger production and larger sound. There has also been a noticeable shift in tempo and while listening to songs like Autocorrect, Take It From Me, and Repeat After Me I couldn’t help but imagine how great they would be in a live context, especially compared to their mostly slow to mid tempo songs from Lunatic.
Yesterday, the Kongos Lunatic tour came to an end. Travelling with the amazing Sir Sly and Colony House, they made their way across North America thankfully stopping at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. I had the pleasure of being there for a sold out night of great music and people. Since Kongos are one of my favorite bands, I treated myself to a VIP package which was definitely worth the extra money since it included cool merch, an intimate acoustic session, and a meet and greet with the band. During this time I was able to ask some questions to the Kongos brothers and learn more about their show! Here are ten things I learned about them:
- They are the nicest people ever. The amount of time and attention they gave to
each and every person who came to meet them made it clear that they truly appreciate their fans. They took time to answer questions, give hugs, and take as many photos as everyone wanted. Them and their entire crew were really genuine and did their best to give everyone the best experience possible.
- They are amazing live. They sound exactly the same as they do on the album (or better), have great energy, and really connected with the crowd. They also threw in a few cool covers like Blue Monday, Tokoloshe Man, and Eleanor Rigby! Also the VIP acoustic session was very special and totally worth the extra money. In such an intimate setting their talent wasespecially evident.
- Mo Gordon is a boss. Not only was he the nicest VIP host, he is also Kongos’ manager, and a talented musician himself. One of the shows highlights was when he came on stage to rap a verse on their cover of The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby”.
- Accordions are really expensive. During the acoustic session they allowed questions so I asked Johnny what the round buttons on the left side of his accordion were for. According to him they did “nothing at the moment” because they were broken on both the one he was using and his spare (the consequences of touring). I asked if they were planning on buying a new one but Johnny said they were really expensive and he would “have to win the lottery to buy a new one”. He’ll get it fixed when the tour is finished.
- Danny does most of the video that plays in the background during the concert which makes sense because he is also credited with the photography for their albums and does a lot of work on their music videos such as the filming and editing of their video for “Come with Me Now”. This was part of the remarkable production that they had the opportunity of including on their headlining tour.
- Tokoloshe Man is the best song on the drums. They covered this song by their father, John Kongos, during the encore and the drums (which were surprisingly set up at the front of the stage) were really entertaining to watch. They were so good that Jesse dropped his sticks twice and as a result I got one of them!
- Danny has started to sing “Kids These Days” live. Since I spend too much time listening to Kongos live shows on YouTube I know that Dylan usually sings “Kids These Days” live but for some reason in Toronto Danny sang it (he also sings it on the album). It was really good and I actually prefer when Danny sings it as I find this song really suits his voice. Finally hearing him sing was definitely one of the shows highlights for me!
- They pick the music that plays between sets. This was made obvious by the amount of Tinariwen played, an artist they often cite when asked about their musical influences. Since I always check out what music my favourite bands recommend I recognized a lot of the songs on the playlist (which was good because they have a great taste in music).
- They can see when you sing along to their songs in the crowd. During the meet and greet after the show I enthusiastically told the Kongos brothers how amazing they were to which Dylan responded that he saw me singing every word (which I was). This was the best part of the night and meant so much to me!
- The new Kongos album is going to be mind-blowing. If it’s anything like the two new songs they have been playing on tour the next Kongos album will definitely not disappoint! Both songs, “Take it From Me” and “I Don’t Mind” are both very upbeat and fresh sounding without losing the Kongos sound everyone already loves. Also, if anyone else was wondering why Dylan and Danny switch instruments during “I Don’t Mind” it’s just because Dylan wrote it on the guitar and it’s his song. Watch “Take it From Me” live here: