Headlining Saturday night of the opening weekend of new DC venue The Anthem, Kaleo brought an energy and swagger rarely seen by bands so young. Their genre-bending, high energy performance captivated the audience and solidified their status as a must-see live band.
With the stage lined with amplifiers silhouetting the shape of Iceland, a backdrop with an aerial image of Iceland printed on it, and wooden crates reading “KALEO ICELAND” across them, it was obvious that the band wanted to make sure the crowd knew they were from Iceland.
They started their set by having “Afternoon Delight,” by Starland Vocal Band, play once the lights went out on stage. Although the choice seemed a little out of place at first, it made a little sense given their relocation to Austin, Texas.
Kaleo played all the hits off their latest album A/B, and then some. The band expertly moved from the blues vibes of “Broken Bones,” to the reggae tones of “Back Door,” to the 1950’s folk feel of “Automobile.” The genre fluidity made it so there was never a dull moment, as you never knew where they were going to go next.
Frontman Julius did not disappoint. Although not much of a talker – the only times he spoke were to thank everyone for coming – his vocals were impeccable. His voice flowed naturally from his vulnerable, yet strong falsetto on “All the Pretty Girls,” to his powerful whistling on “Automobile,” to his low, sensual howls throughout the night.
For “Hot Blood,” Kaleo brought the heat with blinding red flashing lights, guitar riffs, and tempo changes. Bassist Daniel was jumping around the stage hyping up the crowd and getting them to jump along with him. By the end, everyone was jumping and clapping along as the song kept building.
“I Can’t Go On Without You” brought a captivatingly dark, almost sensual energy, with Julius whistling the intro and outro to the song. The intense build of guitars mesmerized the audience and helped create the entrancing energy of the set.
In another seemingly out of place song choice for the night, Kaleo performed a cover of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” by Cher. The lyrics seemed to natural roll of Julius’ tongue with an added air of mystery that made the song seem as if it was their own.
Kaleo sang “Vor í Vaglaskógi,” their only song in their native tongue. Although very few people in the audience understood the lyrics, everyone understood the beauty of the song and began to sway along.
From Julius’ powerful vocal performance, to the energetic guitar riffs, to the poignant harmonica solos, every aspect of their set was incredible. Kaleo sounds good on record, but they sound even better live. They definitely got The Anthem off on a running start towards being the best venue in DC.
Photo Credits: Kaleo’s Instagram