Bonobo’s global Migration Tour started in North America on Wednesday, April 12th, just a few days before Coachella, at The Fox Oakland. This was his first live performance since 2014 when he toured after producing his album, The North Borders. Since then the Bay Area has been a special place for producer and musician, Simon Green, with several DJ sets a year, and most recently, a NYE show at The Midway SF.
This show was to be my fourth time seeing Bonobo with each performance prior being a DJ set. Green’s sets are often long, elaborate constructions and deconstructions of beats and sounds. Both shows I attended in San Francisco were three hours of music. Green has a talent for leading the audience along a sonic pathway using heavy bass, musical notes, and a scattering of sounds, all while sampling music from across the globe.
The live portion of Bonobo’s music includes a band of seven with guitar, keys, brass section, drums, and Green on bass. Vocalist Szjerdene performed alongside singing for tracks such as Break Apart, No Reason, Surface, and Transits. The presentation of the band was subdued with each member placed in line with one another across the stage. Szjerdene stood in front looking elegant in a blue dress. Green stood on a slightly raised platform as he directed the night’s performance.
The show opened with the title track Migration, a slow melodic entry for the night, and shifted upbeat to 7th Sevens. The guitar playing over this track tantalized the audience, hinting at what was to come for the live show. Over the course of the song Szjerdene walked on stage and performed Break Apart, her vocals laying softly over the band’s music. The atmosphere immediately opened up as the beginning notes to The North Borders Kierra sent the audience into a frenzy.
Visuals for Bonobo’s tour were designed by Strangeloop, graphic designer David Wexler. Mr. Wexler has worked on various set designs for artists such as Flying Lotus and Skrillex. Bonobo’s visuals had a deeply mysterious feel as the perspective flew the audience over otherworldly landscapes. Floating pillars of light interlaced the landscapes transforming into psychedelic patterns and movements.
Bonobo’s performance lasted just under two hours. The night stretched on as Green led us in with tracks from Migration, The North Borders, and a few I’ll leave as a surprise for those waiting to see him live. The show itself was well thought out and nicely produced. There wasn’t a point where the energy dropped or lingered. The audience was closely attentive responding to the band’s energy and returning in kind. After the band walked off the stage the crowd cheered for a solid 5 minutes before Green and company returned for a three song encore.
The Migration tour is still in full swing. With Coachella completed Bonobo is about to embark across the US and Canada. On Friday, May 12th, Bonobo will perform at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater along with special guest Nick Murphy, aka Chet Faker during an event presented by AEG Live Presents Colorado readers are heavily encouraged to attend this incredible production. Bonobo is playing at the top of his game.