After label members Yazmin Lacey and Pete Beadsworth both released their first full EP, Running Circle invited Kinkajous, their talented nu-jazz mates from London, to release a record too. The result is the ruddy brilliant Hidden Lines album which came out this June, and the band came to Rough Trade to perform it live.
Doors opened at half 7 with the Running Circle DJs spinning out tunes in the bar area while we grabbed our first drink; there was summat in the air that night and spirits were high - probably because it fell on Summer Solstice. The crowd was buzzing with plenty of nattering going on until suddenly, sweet synth tones cut through the noise and summoned the crowd to the stage in a quick, magical moment. Pete Beardsworth, supporting Kinkajous, was getting started. “I can see that you noticed I’ve started playing now,” he jokes, following the audience’s speedy pilgrimage to the gig space.
The night was special for a number of reasons. The first one being that it was the last time Pete would be performing under his name. Now, you can catch him as Heron Dance and making more beaty, electronic bits. He admitted Friday was a semi-experiment in preparation for this, “I’m kinda making a lot of this up,” he laughs, before diving back into his dreamy, meditative-state inducing keyboard and sax sounds and lulling the crowd into a trance.
After taking a sec to come back around, helped again by the Running Circle DJs who were back on for the interlude, we couldn’t help but notice a humongous saxophone taking pride of place on centre stage. Plonked right in the middle of a surrounding set up of keys, a big drum kit and some more keyboard / synth machines too. It was clear that things were about to get serious on that small but mighty platform.
Kinkajous dived straight in to summon the crowd - clearly an effective tactic. Quickly, they created energy that was just as encompassing as the warm up but on new, dancier levels. The quintet were all smiles as they performed their first track and didn’t stop throughout the show. After the first song, Benoit Parmentier takes a moment to introduce everyone to a mega applause, before cloaking the venue in their own world of sound again and performing their new album.
This sound was jazz, but for the club-going, space-obsessed generation. Funky bass and meticulous drum beats formed the skittering backbone, while keys and synths created glittering soundscapes straight from the Star Trek era. A whole bunch of impressive sax solos were thrown in for good measure too. It’s fun, definitely, but the overall effect showed these guys mean nothing but business.
As they reach the end of their set and Benoit announces they’re about to play their last, and quite long, song, he grabs the mic again. “Every time we come to Nottingham, it feels like home. Thank you to Running Circle and thank you all. We love you!”
You might be forgiven for not knowing Running Circle was a Nottingham-based label. Though it’s run by local musicians who formed it to release their own stuff, these same artists have also spawned loads of fans across the country thanks to support from heroes like Giles Peterson. Following this gig, Kinkajous are taking their new album to London’s The Pickle Factory to ‘properly’ launch - it’s humbling to see that they showcased it to us ‘ere in Notts first, and I don’t think anyone involved would have had it any other way. Proper family feelings this one.
Kinkajous played at Rough Trade on Friday 21 June.