by Leah Buist
Although a relatively new addition to the alternative music scene, Kawala certainly knows how to put on a show. The five-piece feel-good indie band took centre stage at the small but legendary King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, previously to have hosted mega bands such as Oasis and Radiohead.
“What an honour to play at the incredibly famous, King Tuts. Dreams do come true” said the guitarist and vocalist, Daniel McCarthy. Yet the venues iconic reputation failed to intimidate the band, instead only encouraging an aura of sheer excitement and joy that radiated out from each member.
Sprinting onto the stage, the North London quintet jumped straight into song, spilling their feel-good melodies over the audience which began to warm them from the inside out. The playful tone of ‘Funky’ travelled through audience members as it bellowed through the speakers, encompassing the crowd in a bubble of optimism and all-round good vibes.
The band’s upbeat tunes and feel-good vibes were not only matched, but accentuated by the animated energy emitted from the front man and lead vocalist, Jim Higson. “Listen, it’s been two years and my dance moves haven’t improved a single bit” he said to the crowd, “but I’m up here having a great time – dance with me!” and that they did.
Jim’s stage presence was a highlight of Kawala’s performance. Not only did his body seem to move seamlessly in company with the melody of each song, but the emotion expressed on his face as the lyrics trickled off his tongue allowed the music to be felt as well as heard.
But it was their performance of ‘Loosen up’ half way through the set that really blew me away. The combination of a beautifully crafted instrumental alongside the front man’s compelling and emotional vocals, was something really special to witness live. It was a powerful and memorable moment not only in the show, but for the band themselves.
Yet Kawala did not stop there, we were made to feel emotion at our core once again during another really special moment in the performance of their penultimate song, ‘Mighty River’. With just the two front men and an acoustic guitar left on stage, their performance became really stripped back and personal. “Know that I am closer to you” were the lyrics that rippled out of their mouths and into the hearts of the crowd.
Kawala can so effortlessly switch from upbeat and feel-good, to slow and intimate which created a particularly enjoyable depth and balance to their performance. Yet at the same time, no matter where they take the set, they have the crowd right behind them every step of the way.As their set reached its end and their performance came to a close, audience members left feeling more connected to the band than before. The indie quintet felt like our friends and their gig felt like a party. Kawala didn’t sing to us at King Tuts, they sang with us.