The crowd stands hushed, solemnly at attention, as Robert Brinkerhoff’s voice pierces the anticipation in the room and drifts upwards to fill the space between the rafters.
It’s the last night of Kiev’s August residency at the Bootleg Theater in L.A., and it’s packed. The instrumentals amp up, each beat of the drum striking directly to the heart. A projection of moving colors begins to play along the back of the stage, a reminder of how much the Kiev guys revel in the visual ecstasy that accompanies the sound they produce. Soon, that sound takes on an epic quality, growing all-encompassing and culminating in a saxophone solo, that’s received bar by bar with cheers from the ground.
Next, a twangy flavor of jazz bursts forth. The effect is cerebral, an abstraction of sound that re-forms to create something stamped with their unique genius.
Kiev, known for their experimentalism, gained recognition through their 2 EP’s, Ain’t No Scary Folks In On Around Here and Be Gone Dull Cage and Others, which they released in the last three years. Most recently, they have been holed up in their warehouse in Orange for the better part of a year working on their first full-length album.
As they launch into “Crooked Strings,” the colorful projection behind the stage turns psychoactive, and as it grooves to the music one begins to feel why the layered effect of their performance was once described as “a rock and roll orgasm.” Among the crowd, the swaying and head nodding begin. It’s a pattern the guys have noticed consistently from their onstage vantage point: the audience stands quiet, simply entranced for the first half of the show. Then, around that halfway point, a few of its members finally start swaying (perhaps unconsciously?) and the rest follow suit until the crowd becomes a mass swaying, nodding, bopping in unison.
Now, they bring out the new stuff. It includes Falling Bough, which premiered on KROQ’s Locals Only in late July. The song begins measured, with a bass-heavy rhythm that at moments echoes Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, only to elude expectation and carry on a path that only it knows until it gives itself over to a fully psychedelic resonance, as does everyone in the room.
Having emerged here these four August Mondays at the Bootleg for their return to the world following a year-long hiatus from performance, it appears as though Kiev have seen their own shadow and will again retreat from the stage until the release of the album in October. It will be six long weeks to come until the arrival of fall’s musical equinox.
Words by Bojana Sandic
Photography by David Reeve