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Live Review: Pepa Knight, August 1 @ Goodgod Smallclub

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on August 8, 2014

Words by Clancy Gibson

Incense, flower chains, saris and tapestries. Welcome to Little India, or Goodgod Smallclub as it is known on any other night. Pepa Knight has so heavily adorned the tiny stage with Eastern embellishment that almost no room is left for the five-piece band. Add to this the t-shirts, 3D glasses, and tapes that “if used in a ‘97 Barina, they will work” being sold at the door, the night instantly gave off a busy Indian Bazaar vibe.

Before the gig starts, Knight can be seen stands side of stage doing vocal exercises in a dark corner. The singer is preparing to show the crowd his new venture as a solo artist.

As a member of Jinja Safari, Knight has enjoyed critical acclaim both locally and internationally, and has become known as a highly successful live act. Now, he’s ventured into the music industry as a solo act, with a new band and a pool of new songs written during a soul searching trip through India. The influence is obvious throughout each track – his sound is textured and heavily influenced by Indian music.

The band make their way on stage, all sporting 3D glasses, some barefooted and others flaunting homemade headdresses created with palms and foil. After an energetic first song, Knight introduces himself with the flair of a showman and “a million thank yous,” clearly elated to be on stage.

A beautiful sitar, box accordion and tablas give his dreampop sound a festive flair. Hypnotising visuals make for a psychedelic backdrop, with swirling patterns hitting and reflecting off the foil and sequins on stage. Knight plays a sitar like it’s a Fender and strong beats comes from the drummer, wearing the orange robes of a Swami. Everything about this show was densely layered: the visuals, the sounds and the beards.

Swapping his sitar for an acoustic guitar, Knight and co. play Clams, the second single off highly-anticipated LP Hypnotise. The song cleverly uses an echoing chorus and a thumping beat, as Knight expertly delivers lyrics with an impressive vocal range. Lively and light-hearted, this song uses running beats, bells and constant streams of different chants to create a spritely atmosphere that translates beautifully to the stage.

The thickly-layered and sometime spasmodic music reminded me Animal Collective – particularly the euphoric tempo and busy orchestration. While tuning his intricate sitar on stage, a myriad sounds begin to arise from the many other instruments on stage, all led by a beautiful flute solo.

Towards the end, Knight pulled as many people as possible from the front row onto the stage, dishing out 3D glasses to lucky fans. Not unlike Jinja Safari’s shows, Pepa Knight put on an entertaining performance, brimming with energy and vitality.


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