London trio Kero Kero Bonito head back to the Bay Area this Sunday with a return appearance at Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, arriving a week before the release of their debut proper, Bonito Generation, out October 21.
Comprised of producers Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled and bubbly lead singer Sarah Midori Perry, the trio perform songs in a style they’ve labeled the “international tanoshi sound,” a seemingly uber-sincere, extra-bright slice of musical optimism that pulls equally from both J-Pop and Jamaican dancehall, and contains a bevy of direct and indirect video game references. It can feel a bit overwhelming on first listen if you aren’t used to the aesthetic.
Yet as they’ve let on in interviews, their brand of pop may be particularly subversive. As Gus shared in an interview with Dutch magazine Subbacultcha, “We’re exceptionally clever because we want to market the widely appealing rebellion of punk and combine it with a retail vision for the future. Look at the Sex Pistols. Johnny Rotten is a real estate agent now.”
While some may be quick to label KKB’s brand of candy-colored pop as a bit superficial, an interview with The Guardian earlier this year reveals a band in touch with their music history, citing late ’70s post-punk and new wave groups like The Pop Group, Public Image Ltd., and The B-52’s as points of inspiration to describe their musical approach in the context of today’s musical climate..
Intro Bonito, originally released to SoundCloud as a mix, was picked up in 2014 by London label Double Denim Records. Their song “Flamingo,” released as part of a compilation by music outlet Secret Songs, was later picked up by taste-maker YouTube channel Majestic Casual. Bonito Generation will be their first physical release.
With a playfully awkward, painfully sincere sound, the show should be a quirky joy for those looking to step outside their comfort zone and enter the performance art-esque work of KKB, whose style closely resembles that of fellow UK collective PC Music.
Kero Kero Bonito
Swedish American Hall
October 16, 2016
9pm, $16 (21+)