The crowd at Kid Congo and the Pink Monkeybirds brought me to The Aurora Spiegeltent on a rainy Saturday, a few minutes from midnight, along with a surprisingly small crowd. Surprising because Kid Congo himself is famed for being a founding member of cult band The Gun Club, and has played guitar with both The Cramps and The Bad Seeds.

This left ample room around the edges of the Spiegeltent to watch the band with a beer in hand and take in the action. The crowd was certainly big enough to make the floorboards shake fiercely from the frenzied central dancefloor. It was threatening to break from the pounding feet as the band relentlessly played one catchy, danceable rock tune after another.

The crowd warmed up almost as soon as the set started, and was rewarded with a couple of Cramps and Gun Club songs thrown in there. One fan confessed to me that he ‘couldn’t explain what that means (to him)… to see one of the original members playing those songs’.

Each track had a purred introduction by Kid Congo himself, such as ‘SuSu, whom you might remember from the film Cry Baby…’ Kid Congo himself has a John Waters quality to him, with a thin moustache, red kerchief around his neck (matched with the other band members) and biker cap complete with chain in front.

The cartoonish quality of their live performance didn’t come across with the sound of their classic, swampy surfer rock music I’d been listening to all week. Even with their kitsch lyrics I was surprised at how camp Kid Congo was as a lead personality, while the rest of the band oozed a classic rocker vibe, wearing black jackets throughout the entire set despite the heat. The contrast made the performance more satisfying – for a band that’s undeniably cool, they’re also incredibly fun.

I can’t remember the last time I genuinely enjoyed guitar and drum solos so much – not just for technical ability but because they so satisfyingly fit the mood of the music, and the gig, and the crowd. They rocked out.

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This is the kind of music that makes you want to immediately fuck something. (Isn’t that what all good rock and roll aspires to?) But since you can’t do that in public I did the Twist, I Go-Go danced, I shook my head around until it almost fell off. Meanwhile Kid Congo was shaking behind the microphone like he’d been possessed by the spirit of rock and roll – and at some point confessed that this was their second gig as a band. Christ!

The most pure expression of rock and roll I’ve ever seen. Come back soon.

 

Originally published in artfoodblog.com, now defunct.