My Amazingly Crazy KONGOS Experience at Edgefest24
(sometimes an old fashioned blog post is in order)
By Lesa Browning
Somehow upon entering the autograph booth for the KONGOS signing, I morphed from an adult journalist into a 14 year old groupie. Not really sure how it happened, I meet bands frequently and manage to maintain my composure. Maybe it was the sun or the single vodka cocktail enjoyed with new found friends made while waiting in the long line of fans. I suspect it might have been the abandonment by my friend Hayzen who, at the very last second, thought it was a great idea to hand me her poster so she could jump behind the booth with her camera. I think it was hearing her say very loudly “This one REALLY likes you guys!” that lead me to profess my undying love and devotion to this hot band from South Africa that motivated me to come to Edgefest24 in the first place. I am not entirely sure how I made it out of that line, but all four brothers were kind enough to sign our posters and make some small talk with the crazy girl. I don’t know exactly what was said, but I have the funny photos to prove it happened.
OK, so I was a little nuts, but I got it together by the time they took the stage. Well…. mostly.
I am not sure how I first stumbled upon the music of the KONGOS, but it has been a while. Those of you who know me, know of my love for percussion and the drums. I am instantly drawn to a good drum beat, it gets me every time. KONGOS music tends to be full of fantastic drumming and their hit song I’m Only Joking was my first introduction to their music. This song comes at you with a hard hitting drum beat that never seems to go away. I was instantly hooked and went searching for more. Thankfully the Internet brought me more music and videos. (ah, sweet videos!) For the longest time no one seemed to be talking about this band. None of my normally “in the know” music friends had a clue. Finally one of the trades had an inch sized blurb about them being “one to watch” and I knew I was not alone. The friends I had been bugging and sharing this music with were texting things like “can’t stop listening” or random lines from songs like “When the big one finally hits LA…” (from the song Escape) I had been scouring the web for more information on the band but not a lot was out there at that point. I began following the band on social media, convinced the reviewer in me “needed” to get information somehow….. When the band posted they would be playing Edgefest24 the pro and fan in me couldn’t resist flying from the west coast to check them out up close and in person.
Once I recovered from the autograph embarrassment we spent some time with some fellow KONGOS fans we met in line. A fun pair of sisters from the local area told a similar story to mine, unsure how they “discovered” the band but claimed to be wildly into them. The roaming Vodka girls convinced us that the music would be even better with another drink and before long it was time to head to the village to get a spot at the second stage to see the KONGOS set.
A large group of fans assembled with us to wait. (a big thank you to my friend Hayzen for missing one of her favorite bands on the main stage so we could get to KONGOS early) While we waited I felt out the crowd, taking mental notes. The stories all the same; no idea how the first heard the band, none of their friends really knew them, happy to be around other fans and most importantly, everyone just wanted more KONGOS!
The music started, we all went crazy as expected and danced ourselves silly, singing along. I smiled knowingly when the gal next to me leaned in and said that she was “shocked” that the drummer sang so much. This girl clearly has not been watching the videos! They all sing. They all play instruments. Multi talented these guys, really great genes in this musical family. Their father is the talented John Kongos, maybe best known for the 1971 hit single He’s Gonna Step On You Again. All the brothers were classically trained at a young age. They all write independently. Just a whole bunch of talent wrapped up in this good looking rock band.
The KONGOS were so great live. They played many songs from their Lunatic album and also a great new song titled Take it From Me. Nothing less than any of us could have hoped for. This is not just my “fan” perspective, I actually interviewed many others while hanging around after the set. Why was I hanging around and not running back to the main stage? Well…..
Having mostly recovered from my earlier silliness, yet still feeling bold and empowered by great music and my crazy fun friend who will do just about anything, I decided to try and meet them again and take a proper photograph. Frontman Dylan Kongos was out right away and was taking photos with those of us pushy enough to ask. Pretty soon the crowd was gone, likely remembering there was another band playing loudly behind them. But not us! Nope, we were just watching the other three brothers put away gear and hang back. We decided to try and get youngest brother and guitar player Danny’s attention and to our shock he came right over and talked to us. He was very sweet and offered to take a photo with us. At this point we asked if his other two brothers were shy or anti-social. He chuckled, suggesting they were busy putting gear away but that he would mention to them that we would like them to come over. Two down and two to go, I think we figured we had nothing to lose really. We would wait them out. I am pretty sure they came over just to be rid of us, but we did not care. Drummer Jesse came heading our way followed closely by his accordion playing older brother Johnny and both were ridiculously nice. A few minutes a chat, a round of photos and we were pretty happy fans. A couple others came over to take advantage of the scene and a girl thanked us for being so pushy! (yikes… sorry guys!)
So, while it was in no way how I normally spend my time professionally, it was a tremendous amount of fun. I would like to thank all four of the Kongos brothers for being seriously cool about our insanity at Edgefest. I will chalk it up to the sun and fun that comes with a great festival. I do hope that I get the chance to talk with these amazingly talented guys again and if I do, I promise to be an adult. I also promise to write a more serious review of their amazing music now that I know I will be seeing them several times in the coming months. It has recently been announced that KONGOS will be touring with Kings of Leon and Young the Giant. In addition they have a few solo shows scattered around the country.
*Update: It has been announced that KONGOS will tour this fall with One Republic on the European leg of their second Native tour. I will be in Prague while they are on tour and my Czech friend Denisa already has our tickets. It seems I am going to see a lot more of this talented band. You can see them in a city near you, check their website for information.
You can get tour information and a whole lot more on their beautiful new website at www.kongos.com
Of course you can find their album Lunatic on iTunes www.itunes.apple.com/us/album/lunatic/id807600188