Live: Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart 13/05/2018

The carpets at the iconic Brisbane Hotel in, confusingly, Hobart, Australia are so sticky that if you stand still on the one spot for too long, you might get never get out alive. Luckily, when a band like Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds play, there is no risk of that.

Opening with their recent single ‘Spider’, the band thunders it way through a set lasting over an hour at a pace and rhythm that never dissipates, never lags. Kid Congo himself is the consummate entertainer, his big glasses and pencil moustache, magician’s cape and expressive theatrical delivery is mesmerising. He’s an accountant that has sold his soul to the devil. He rolls his eyes lasciviously, he leers, he gurns and seduces and hectors the crowd like a manic preacher while his band are the epitome of garage cool, dissociated and relatively still.

The crowd were fittingly manic too, the vast bulk surely not old enough to be aware of Kid Congo’s history but that is exactly the mesmeric force of this band – the music seduces, Kid Congo enthralls and the crowd dances.

The set list is littered with nods to Kid Congo’s past – The Cramps represented by New Kind of Kick and I Can’t Find My Mind filled with the right amount of sleaze and camp – and Gun Club by for the Love of Ivy and Sex Beat with fitting levels of thunder, sneer and attitude. It is the band’s own songs that fuel the voodoo tone, wild, hysteric, unbound music that teeters on the edge of chaos. It’s arch, it’s mockingly self-referential, high camp and yet so serious.

So intimate is the venue that there is no pretence with the encore. Kid Congo doesn’t even bother leaving the stage, weaving sounds with his little sound effects machine perched on a barroom stool before the rest of the bad troops back on stage.

An instrumental ends the show – a cyclical piece that build up and dissipates, crashes and resolves, highlighting each of the band’s strengths. The drumming and the baritone guitar form the extraordinary spine of this band.

It is always appreciated when a band of the stature of Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds makes the effort to play in an outlying post like Hobart, let alone in a venue as intimate as the Brisbane Hotel where there is no backstage and there were no roadies helping the band set up. It was a gig to remember.

The band has a punishing schedule and due to public demand following some well-received shows in Melbourne are even adding gigs as they proceed around Australia. You can (and indeed should) catch them at the following venues for the remainder of the tour:

May 14 and 15: The Old Bar, Melbourne
May 17: Caravan Music Club, Bentleigh, Melbourne
May 18: Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
May 19: The Foundry, Brisbane

Set List:
Spider Baby
Coyote Conundrum
Psychic Future
Magic Machine
Ricky Ticky Tocky
El Cucuy
New Kind of Kick
I Can’t Find My Mind
La Araña
Chicano Studies
For the Love of Ivy
Bubble Trouble
Let’s Go!
Sex Beat

For the uninitiated, Kid Congo Powers has at various times been guitarist for bands such as The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Gun Club. His style can best be described as a fuzzy garageband blast mixed with a sexy voodoo charm – at the point where Screaming Jay Hawkins meets Nick Cave at a cabaret. The band are:

Kid Congo Powers,
Kiki Solis,
Ron Miller,
Mark Cisneros

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