The hands on the clock hanging on the wall next to the kitchen fridge were taking two steps back for every step forward. The ticks and tocks of every second echoed through the hollow cave that had replaced my brain for the night. There’s nothing quite like a whiskey headache to complement working in a hot kitchen. It’s the closest environment to hell I ever wish to experience. A state of increased clumsiness surrounded by hot things. A third-degree burn waiting to happen. I somehow managed to escape with only a minor slice on my middle finger.
The time passed slower still in anticipation of seeing K-OS at The Commodore. The only reason my feet kept me stable on the kitchen’s slippery tile floor was the prospect that my night would be taking a ninety-degree turn for the better in the near future. As it was, my second time seeing Mr. Crabbuckit in the flesh, I knew what to expect: a high-energy set full of musical twists, turns, and a mix of everything including hip hop, pop, rock and funk. The question wasn’t if K-OS could deliver, it was if my pulsing temples could withstand two hours of cranked music.
“Alright, it’s ten, you’re free to go,” said my boss nonchalantly, unaware that he had just lifted a giant whisk-shaped weight off of my shoulders. The next task was to find a way to the venue. My sore bones convinced me to flag down a cab. And with that in mind, and two fingers raised in the air as the door swung open, the bus straight to The Commodore pulled up to the stop as I stepped outside, the melodious hissing sound of the bus’ lowering hydraulics playing songs of relief. It only got better when I remembered the warm twenty dollars in my pocket that went from taxi fare to beer money in an instant. Hair of the dog, right?
Half of K-OS’s Joyful Rebellion later, and I was at the stoop of the venue, and with time to spare too. I bumped into a friend of mine and shared a cigarette. My mood had turned from glum bum to concert hero. Someone had stolen my sad shoes and I didn’t care to find them ever again. Once inside, I ran up the stairs two at a time. The sooner I reached coat check, the sooner I could replace my heavy shoulder bag with a frothy, overpriced beer. Up those stairs was the promise of a fun time. The light at the end of a soapy, hot water-filled tunnel.
I bumped into a stray drunk girl in the men’s bathroom and a bartender on my way to the dance floor. With a beer clenched in my fist and foam dripping beading down my lips, I placed myself in the centre of the mass. To keep the crowd groovy, some mellow reggae played through the speakers. Every so often the music would stop and the crowd began to cheer, assuming K-OS would be appearing at any second.
The layout found a synth on the right balanced by guitar on the left. Raised turntables were between two percussion sections in the background. K-OS in the middle of it all. The DJ scratched old school wax to a crowd ready to crescendo. “Hey Vancouver. It’s 4/20” said a hidden voice. The crowd exploded as K-OS appeared from the right. My hangover melted into groovy dance moves. Shoulder bops and white-guy finger scoops. A break-dancing genius accompanied the band on stage to hype up the crowd with his impressive stalls and spins. He would come out a few more times throughout the set. Each time resulting in an eruption of cheers and louder dancing.
As for the set list, K-OS played songs off his new album, BLack on BLonde, sporting an electric guitar for the rock portion of the show. He prefaced “Dog Is Mine” by telling everyone he wrote it soon after realizing that “my ex had all of my shit”. An angst-ridden tune with hard vocals. An interesting change of pace for a self-proclaimed rapper. The set was just as I expected – chaotic (no pun intended). He played the recognizable “Man I Used To Be”, “Crabbuckit”, and “Sunday Morning”. People forget that K-OS is a great singer. He proved that with a haunting rendition of “Heaven Only Knows” over his guitar player picking “Stairway to Heaven”. “A$AP Rocky won’t do that shit. Drake won’t do that shit.” Every so often he would use a classic rock song to segue into one of his own. Building up the energy with the beginnings of “Space Oddity”, and “Another Brick in The Wall Pt. 2”. The set had elements of pop, funk, jazz, hip hop, and plain and simple rock. There were beats fast and slow, tight and loose, that made you want to break down and dance your heart out. All in all, a fantastic live performance.
The quality that makes K-OS stand out is his versatility as a musician. Not many people can switch up genres like a new outfit, but he seems to be able to pull it off time and time again. My feet were sore from all the dancing and it didn’t matter. I yearned for some more freestyle, acoustic guitar, and DJ scratches when the night was over. My hangover was gone and I was sad to leave the show. Thank you, K-OS. You cured my headache.