BEING THERE: Hiatus Kaiyote @ Underground Arts



Underground Arts, which more closely resembles a long-ago closed subway stop than a concert venue, was a fitting setting to catch the subterranean rumblings of genre-defying Aussie group Hiatus Kaiyote. The band’s go-to sound is a dizzying combination of jazz, hip-hop, electronic, soul, rock and pretty much everything in between. The true disciples of Hiatus Kaiyote were a similarly diverse lot. However, they managed to pack the floor space as early and tightly as possible in order to fully experience the impending eruption of sound. For me, perpetually lagging behind on long-winding-road-suburban-girl time, this meant casually weaving through a massive congregation of sharp elbows and violent threats from the short fuses of capricious fans. Still, my mission of getting ‘The Shot” of frontwoman Nai Palm weighed more heavily on my mind than sweet nothings in my ear like “Move, bitch.” Fortunately, capturing a radiant shot of Miss Palm was effortless — her sleek, dark-brunette locks, half-shaved and cropped tightly around her face, were a striking contrast to her ivory snow complexion and gleaming blue eyes lidded with smudges of thick black eye makeup. With her sequined jacket, six-inch diameter gold hoop earrings and wedged heels half a foot high, Nai Palm cut quite the urban goddess profile. And we all gladly worshiped at her feet. Hiatus Kaiyote flowed through a 17-song set of jazz-fusion, which as cheesy as it sounds, totally consumed the audience. Glowing with pride from the encouragement of the highly receptive “you-go-girl” audience, Nai Palm bridged the songs with small anecdotes about what each song meant to her, most notably “Laputa,” about a Miyazaki anime of the same name. Nai Palm’s mountainous and soulful vocal riffs telegraphed her emotional connections to the story behind each song. The crowd sang along and played air-instruments in a frenzied karaoke-style, reciprocating the waves of energy generated by tracks like the Grammy-nominated “Nakamarra.” Lustrous smiles bounced back and forth from the band to the audience and back again as Nai Palm and Co. filled every inch of the cinderblock room to the brim with skilled musicianship and boundless innovation, while maintaining an alluring calm about it all. — MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ