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Kid Koala’s Space Cadet at Performance Works

Kid Koala in koala costume photo

Kid Koala presents Space Cadet at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, June 28 2012. Robyn Hanson photo

Kid Koala at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, June 28 2012

– review and photos by Robyn Hanson

Whatís weird about this Kid Koala show is that I did not anticipate a¬†night of gut-busting laughter.

I was expecting an introspective evening listening to poignant compositions via headphones Рa logical assumption considering his latest album, Space Cadet, is a minimalist, almost Erik Satie-like accompaniment to his heartbreaking graphic novel about a space cadet and her guardian robot.

Only a handful of cities have bared witness to this unique set, and I was one of the lucky ones to have experienced it on the last of three consecutively sold-out Performance Works Theatre shows as part of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

The show began before we even entered the theatre.¬†Space Cadet artwork (scratchboard sketches and sculptures), space-inspired imagery and retro equipment like a Rolandís Space Echo and an analog sampler (which loops a speaker’s voice onto a special gold record) populated the foyer.

Once inside, we were invited to listen to the music¬†through headphones (as opposed to amps). Rather than stand, we were asked¬†to get comfy amongst the pillows set up as a¬†semi-circle on the floor in front of the stage. There,¬†Ninja Tunes’ finest – Kid Koala, aka Eric¬†San, plus fellow musicians Vid and Matt – performed behind turntables, keys, mixing modules, and three¬†large projection screens.

Audience at Kid Koala's Space Cadet show

Audience at Kid Koala’s Space Cadet show June 28 2012. Robyn Hanson photo

The show didnít even strictly stick to songs off Space¬†Cadet. Instead, the set showcased Kid Koalaís dynamic range of genres and¬†musical projects, from a freestyle turntable solo of “Moon River” paired¬†with the crooning of a jazz chanteuse to some seriously freaky dub.

And then, when you least expected it – classical piano.¬†Sitting down at the stageís Steinway, San began to play. ďSome people¬†try to summon Oscar PetersonÖ I try to summon [Muppet] Rowlf.Ē

Kid Koala concert photo

Kid Koala at Performance Works, Vancouver, June 28 2012. Robyn Hanson photo

It was these moments of perfectly timed humour, spliced with¬†his musical genius, that ensured the show never suffered a dull moment. From a¬†koala suit-clad San leading the audience in a Yo-Gabba Gabba dance,¬†to the ďprofessionalĒ thumb wrestling ring (complete with a slo-mo video¬†recap with full commentary) to the eight Lord of the¬†Rings Pez dispensers he gave away as participation prizes¬†(people had to play a five-tone tube during the entirety of a song), Kid Koala proved himself to be a consummate entertainer.

A big thanks to the TD International Vancouver Jazz Festival for¬†making this happen, and for treating us to one of the¬†highlights of the this yearís jazz fest.

Kid Koala at Performance Works concert photo

Kid Koala and Space Cadet artwork at Performance Works, Vancouver, June 28 2012. Robyn Hanson photo

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