Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kate Boy at the Mercury Lounge

Kate Akhurst started out as a songwriter in her native Australia, where she received her first publishing deal at age 16. At 21, she moved to Los Angeles, California, for five years, then ventured to Stockholm, Sweden, for the first time in October 2011. The last two days she was there, she met writing/production team Rocket Boy (Hampus Nordgren Hemlin, Oskar Sikow Engström, and Markus Dextegen). Together they wrote and recorded “Northern Lights” that night. The synthpop quartet Kate Boy was born. Kate Boy released its debut EP, Northern Lights, in January 2013.
At the Mercury Lounge tonight, Kate Boy set out to do something unusual. The four musicians dressed in black sneakers with white soles, black shorts, black baseball caps, and black jackets with white straps that made them look like they were planning on parachuting out of an airplane. The club’s usual lighting system was dismissed for the most part; most of the dim stage lighting was generated from white light poles installed throughout the performance area and a few floor lights behind the musicians. Even those of us pressed against the stage hardly had a good look at the musicians’ faces. We heard and felt the music, however, and were impressed. Akhurst packed a punch in her Madonna-styled vocals and the band played layers of throbbing synthesizer and percussion-based dance music. While a lot of dance club music is based on repetitive loops, Kate Boy live had many more dimensions of sound going on in its musical panorama. Throughout the 40-minute set, the four musicians often changed instruments within a song in order to create a new effect. Kate Boy performed music for both dancing and marveling, pop music with a very sharp knife-edge.

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