It started off extra-funky. The band brought a new rhythm to the room that night. They played between an incredible melodic singer-songwriter, and a dynamic and irregular post-rock band. They were on the bill for a new tape label. Yeah, tapes.
My feet starting moving right away. I could feel my brain calling on memories of Parliament at the rhythm of this bass groove. I could feel the smile gently crack through my rushed, anxious face.
And then I danced.
I saw Joko Tea for the first time I think, about a week ago. They played a very busy Thursday, and I was grateful I managed to get down for their set.
They’re a complex band I think. It wasn’t a long set, but I got the sense people came from a range of influences when they started this band. The funk got me real hopeful at the start. I mean, for a second, I wondered if we’d have a band heavily influenced by funk playing indie and weird rock shows. Turns out their sound is a bit more diverse than that, not sticking to the funky bass feels in every song.
I picture pastels and warm breezes around little houses under the warm sun. Maybe the houses are pastel. But not like Easter pastels, a bit softer and lighter than that, a bit more subtle emotion than bright colour. It’s very chill stuff.
Their tunes aren’t super upbeat, but not slow nor sad either. They keep consistent rhythms that can lull you gently through a tune, or when put at a faster pace, make for good smooth hippie dancing. I watched a lot of smiles in the crowd during this set, and I think it’s because their music is pleasant. Like, so very pleasant. It sounds nice.
I haven’t seen a Winnipeg band fronted entirely by a keys player in a while. I mean, if you don’t count Mahogany Frog, ’cause they’re just a mess of incredible keys melodies? But by “entirely fronted” I mean keys and vocals. And the keys really showed some skill, added to the compositions, bringing a bit of an older or more fun tone to the rest of the band. I’m thinking a little bit like Supertramp at times, and carnival at others. The guitar and bass bits don’t necessarily have a brash or boring tone, just that they make guitar sounds right. Together they create a very pleasant sound, but the guitar is pretty essential to lending the gut and an active energy to that sound.
Towards the end of the set, they got a bit show-tunes-ey. It was like, they announced they were gonna play one more song, and then they played it, but it was actually five different songs, all strung together with changing vocal parts and what I imagine would work great for telling a theatrical story. The keys and vocals really led this one, or, at least created spaces for the guitar, drums and bass to shift into the next movement of the song. I sort of turned to the person next to me at the time and was like, “wow, that was a lot of songs for the last song!” Probably a good thing.
It’d be great to see them play a longer set. As much as I love weird music, stuff with crazy changes, etc, it’s tough for me to find such enjoyable and elastic rock that can sound like a number of genres and still make me wanna dance. Also, kudos for having that mix of genres in a set. There’s nothing like a band that can fill a handful of my musical appetites.