After the half drunk, half melodies of a Jeff Tweedy look alike and the smooth, heartfelt schtick of Uke-Hunt, Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds took the stage in denim jackets, striped shirts and swaths of spring reverb.
For those unacquainted, Kid Congo Powers has had a long history in music, playing with such legendary acts as The Cramps, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and The Fall.
At 55 years old, it’s clear he has no intentions of slowing down with The Pink Monkey Birds, whose two chord, high energy garage punk had the audience bouncing, shouting and laughing along to songs such as “Killer Diller” and “She’s Like Heroin To Me” (Gun Club).
The white padded wall behind the band fit the off kilter, humorously psychotic nature of Kid Congo, who spent the brief moments between bass grooves cracking jokes and referencing long forgotten B-Movies in his smoothly sinister growl. Before the crowd had a chance to stop laughing, The Pink Monkey Birds were off into another song. By the second half of the set, words took a backseat to noisy droning grooves complete with surfer tremolo and feedback solos.
Despite their classic sound and audible influences, their set never became tedious or contrived. It is clear that over the years, Kid Congo has
gained complete control of his art and the audience.
“It’s alright, I know you’re afraid” he says behind a John Waters ‘stache and a leather S&M cap. “It’s alright, ‘cause I’m not,” a string of fake chicken bones hanging over the kick drum, bouncing in time as the band went into a chilling cover of “Garbage Man” (The Cramps). With his musical history firmly in perspective, the audience had no choice but to give in to The Pink Monkey Bird’s propulsive grooves, greasy riffs and Congo’s guttural and graceful talk-singing.
The band were tight without being glossy, and Kid Congo’s brief bits of clever banter broke up the show without feeling forced. “Tune in, drop out and drop dead!” he shouts as he tunes his guitar before another driving psychedelic punk drone. His couple of Spanish numbers were a nice reminder of his Latin heritage without feeling out of place in the set, and their extended encore was well received. It was apparent that both the band and the crowd could’ve gone on all night.
This is an act that lives for an audience. This show was a great end to their California tour, packing The Echo before they head to
Australia for slots at both the Summersalt and Sydney Festivals as well as a handful of clubs. Be sure to check em out when they’re back in the States and keep your ears open for a new record and a fresh 45 later this year.