Friday Nights at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) are back and in full swing with their current exhibition Degas: A New Vision. As part of their Australian tour Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds performed to an excited crowd in the NGV’s Great Hall last Friday. Friday Nights at the NGV is a program where the gallery’s doors re-open at 6pm on Friday nights allowing guests to view their Winter Masterpieces collection in addition to some insightful talks and a number of fantastic bands and performances.
Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds are a band full of zeal and energy, originating from the USA. You may recognise lead singer and guitarist Kid Congo Powers from popular acts like the Gun Club, The Cramps as well as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He appears here with long time associates, drummer Ron Miller (Up the Academy), bassist Kiki Solis (Knife in the Water) and guitarist Mike Cisneros. Together they comprise an act of cosmic dimensions exuding with soulful, jazzy energy.
Their performance at the NGV was immediately imbued with an other-worldly sense of energy as they set up and introduced themselves under the fluorescent rainbow colours of the stain-glass ceiling. They began with an instrumental that revved up the audience as they became increasingly excited for Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds to perform some of their best songs. As Powers introduced the band members and each of the songs he talked to the audience, interacting with them in a performative yet mesmerizingly alluring way. Playing a number of their most popular songs including ‘She’s Like Heroin To Me’, ‘Psychic Future’, ‘Ricky Ticky Tocky’, ‘Magic Machine’ and ‘La Araña’ Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds delivered an exceptional performance. ‘Psychic Future’ was a favourite amongst the crowd, as the electrifying bass line captivated the audience, transporting them to an alternate world of atmospheric jubilance. I definitely spotted one of the security guards bopping his head up and down during this song as well.
Another one of their best songs from the performance was ‘Ricky Ticky Tocky’. Comprising of a gritty bassline and a burst of collaborative instrumental wonder this song was demonstrative of how well Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds gel together. As they moved in sync with each other, really feeling the music they were playing, the audience became entranced and enthralled in the theatricality of their performance. Undoubtedly, one of the most exciting moments of their performance was when Powers announced that a special guest would be joining them on stage. Whispers of speculation began to run through the audience as I heard a woman next to me wonder: “Could it possibly be Spencer P. Jones?” She was not mistaken as Spencer P. Jones, expert guitarist and friend of Powers, came to the stage to perform with the band in a flurry of excitement and pandemonium. Soon after Mick Harvey was also introduced as a guest. Having worked with Powers in Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Harvey meshed well with the band to perform a cover of Thunderhead, one of his favourite songs from the Gun Club album.
Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds produced an hour-long performance of excitement, energy and cosmic wonder as they performed to a crowd of overwhelming appreciative energy. Emanating self-described “New Orleans drum beats” and “soulful strut bass lines” they were also the perfect act to support the Degas’ exhibition as both Degas and Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds exude a sense of whimsical energy and fluid movement in their performances and artistry.