|7:35PM - 8:35PM||Friday, July 11||Power 104 Main Stage|
The brothers KONGOS--multi-cultural, multi-faceted, multi-instrumentalists—craft a unique and irresistible sound spawned from shared DNA, diverse influences and spot-on melodic and lyrical sensibilities. On Lunatic, their 12-song Epic Records debut, the band’s talent shines on “Come With Me Now”; the title an impossible-to-resist aural summons, the rock-alt crossover tune kicking off with the accordion, jumping into foot-stomping, staccato rhythms, slide guitar, and soaring epic soundscapes reminiscent of U2. “I’m Only Joking,” whose lyrics hint at the album’s title, hits the mark with decisive tribal rhythms and Pink Floyd-esque mysterious modern rock. Thanks to an earlier self-release of Lunatic, KONGOS are already stars overseas, playing their numerous hits off Lunatic for crowds of up to 65,000 at South African festivals and touring the Republic with Linkin Park, and the UK and Europe with AWOLNATION and Dispatch. With a Feb-March North American tour with Airborne Toxic Event and alternative and rock radio hot on “Come With Me Now” and “I’m Only Joking,” (not to mention “Come With Me Now” in promos for NFL, NBA and ESPN), 2014 is quickly shaping up as the year the U.S. catches KONGOS fever.
KONGOS’ life story is as cinematic and captivating as their songs. The siblings, who range in age from 25 (Danny) to 32 (Johnny), were born to popular ’70s South African/ British singer-songwriter John Kongos ("He's Gonna Step On You Again,” “Tokoloshe Man”). Spending their early childhood in London (all were born there except Danny), then South Africa before settling in Phoenix in the mid-90s, the boys were exposed to a wide variety of sounds. “We listened to everything from classical and opera like Puccini to African tribal music to 60s and 70s pop and rock,” says Dylan, who cites African bassist Richard Bona, Béla Fleck’s Victor Wooten, and singing players like Sting and Paul McCartney as influences. His rhythm section partner, Jesse, who studied Jazz at ASU (as did Johnny), remembers learning boogie-woogie and classical piano as a child before getting into African drums, then jazz greats like Jack DeJohnette. As KONGOS grew together as a rock band, Jesse loved the vibe and feel of Zeppelin’s John Bonham, and currently admires gospel and hip hop drummers like Aaron Spears and Carlos McSwain. Danny also boasts a myriad of influences, ranging from Jeff Beck to Mahmoud Ahmed--“the James Brown of Ethiopia”--for his use of unconventional pentatonic scales. Johnny, who is a student of jazz and classical piano, cites Keith Jarrett as a hero, while his accordion playing draws from various world styles, including South African maskandi and Qawwali music.