Photos By: Rachel Frank
By: Amanda Martinek
The first violin notes hit. Darker bass notes start to layer. The light twists and turns begin to flow, slower, almost into a whisper. Then “Prelude” drops heavy into “Kiara” and the beats pulse through your body as you start to groove, write, skate, read, think, or just breathe.
The first two tracks off Bonobo’s 2010 album Black Sands are what he used to kick off his Friday night DJ set at the Observatory in North Park, and are also the two tracks I used to kick off every paper writing session while I studied abroad in Australia. I feel like this sentiment was shared with many crowd members, as the majority looks like scuzzy current or post-college kids, paying homage the man behind the music that got them that O-Chem ‘A’.
Bonobo’s music transcends genres, mixing in funk, dub, and hip hop beats, with sometimes sultry r&b vocals, sometimes whistles, sometimes sitars. It’s a special niche of post-party intellectual chillout music, which is perhaps why Simon Green’s DJ set didn’t ever fully swing into a party in the live setting, but was still swayed to and appreciated by the packed theater.
While it was nice to be a place full of people appreciating the same sounds, I had to wonder what Bonobo was actually doing. From my vantage point, it looked like he was turning knobs and occasionally put on headphones. Chalk this up to DJ illiteracy, but I had to wonder what the difference between a DJ set and live show would be, and if it would have made any difference to the crowd. Luckily for Bonobo, I don’t think it would have. They loved this shit.