An Australian quartet by the name of Hiatus Kaiyote has been all over the internet for years now with their mix of jazz, soul, hip hop, and progressive time signatures. I was lucky enough to catch their recent sold out show at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre, which spawned a few ideas on the modern band, the state of modern jazz, and the continuation of Australian dominance in music.
For starters, Hiatus Kaiyote is a freshly assorted sound: a spastic blend for J Dilla beats, Erykah Badu’s sultry soul, and Bonobo’s atmosphere. They’re hardly bound by any sort of preconceived notions of what a “song” is. For example, they’ll exchange the typical verse/chorus/verse for something that would be better described as 90bpm/70bpm/breakbeat. It’s perfect for the generation who can’t focus on anything anymore, and the 16-30 year olds who slam-packed Gramercy Theatre will testify to that.
The band’s time has arrived at the perfect time. On one hand, jazz is cooler than it has been in years. Kamasi Washington is flooding my news feed, Flying Lotus’ critically acclaimed You’re Dead was stuffed with it, Kendrick Lamar raps over it, BADBADNOTGOOD is blowing up, and it makes perfect sense. Jazz is the perfect antithesis to the tired EDM trend; it’s musical, genuine, legitimate, and the original dance music of western culture. Hiatus Kaiyote’s spastic jumps play out like a beat tape while retaining it’s authentic flavor.
Kaiyote is also the latest Australian act to garner a massive amount of praise by an American audience. What do Iggy Azalea, Tame Impala and Flume have in common? Nothing but a homeland that continues to churn out compelling music in its respective genre. For whatever reason – maybe it’s something in the water – Australia can’t seem to quit producing captivating artists.
I’m not complaining, however, and neither were the 500 heads inside of Gramercy Theatre this past Cinco De Mayo. The group’s gleeful youth, exciting sound, and fresh vibe added to their musical abilities for a concert that was as impressive as you’d hope.Hearing everyone sing along with “Nakamarra” is the very reason we go to concerts in the first place. It’s exciting to watch a band on the rise as swiftly as Hiatus Kaiyote is, and we can’t wait to watch the rest of their story unfold.