Kid Koala At The Village Underground

As me and my fellow music snob waited in the considerable queue for the late night Kid Koala Space Cadet Experience, I tried to imagine what format this evening’s entertainment might be presented in.

I’ve never been to a headphone based interactive concert based on a graphic novel before, which was the blurb surrounding the Kid’s new live experience, so really had no idea what to expect.

Having read that “space pods” were to be our seating arrangement for the night, I initially imagined fantastical, egg shaped incubators as our vantage points for the eve. On my way to the Village Underground venue, I realised that it’s probably not economically viable for an underground scratch DJ to obtain 120 high tech space pods for a discreet gig in a Shoreditch warehouse.

As the queue counted down and I made my way into this renovated turn of the century warehouse cum arts venue, I spied the long and inflatable tubes that turned out to be our pews for the night. These still created an intimate and comfortable setting for the enchanting show that hypnotised the crowd for the next two and a half hours, but my space age mind was a little deflated.

The evening’s festivities had a delayed blast off as Kid Koala gave a friend of his a chance to shine in front of his audience. Sadly, this singer projected a rather dim light that rarely caught our attention; though it made Kid Koala’s soon to be summoned vinyl based alchemy even more alluring.

Space Cadet is a wordless graphic novel and soundtrack about “unmet potential and finding your place in the universe”; two thoughts everyone in the audience seemed to resonate with.

Several cameras were placed on the turntable, projecting Koala’s mixing mastery on two large screens behind him, while a third screen in the centre was reserved for his Space Cadet animations.

Perched in his turntable sanctuary, the Kid also provided commentary over these scenes from his novel, bridging them with live renditions of tracks from the score.

With an otherworldly sonic ambience building a warm, childish aura, and charming animations playing their part, I soon found myself in a slow motion sepia soundscape.

The Space Cadet soundtrack was something of a surreal scratch fest, setting a dreamy atmosphere for the show, only for the Kid to suddenly wake us from our slumber with a joke about the British. This indirect insult was followed by Koala repeatedly uttering “eleven”, in reference to the perfectly symmetrical date of the show.

Kid Koala’s version of Moon River has become something of a crowd favourite, and is the perfect example of his unique appeal. An unconditionally mesmerising journey back to a time I’ve never witnessed, restored to the present with a grace that any era would appreciate.

With the perfect mix of banter, music and visual stimulation, Kid Koala’s Village Underground show was also a demonstration of the man behind the turntable artist inside the koala outfit.

Relaxed and content in his role for the evening as host; Kid Koala chauffeured the audience on a journey through his uninhibited professional and personal creative inner space.

The audience played their part two, being called on stage to play basic instruments every now and again; though I’m sure it was far more exciting for space cadets called upon then it was for those of us left behind.

But it showed Kid Koala’s effort to engage directly with his audience, and in this he succeeded by serving up a sophisticated and organic evening’s entertainment full of sensory stimulation.

A Kid Koala live experience definitely has a particular mood and atmosphere though, on a wavelength that requires a little tuning in to; quite literally in this case, as we all had to tune the headphones we were handed into the frequency of his sound system.

But once you managed this, everything became crystal clear.

Koalas may be known for being a bit lazy and boring, but with this Kid we may have found the exception to the rule.

Words by Kareem Ghezawi, Photography by Emma Gutteridge

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Dates ‘n stuff

November 2011