Fresh off releasing their second studio album Voyager, Auckland instrumental fusion group Yoko-Zuna took flight at Raynham Park in Auckland last night for their album release show. Wax Chattels kicked off the concert which also included a stellar line-up of special guests who collaborated with Yoko-Zuna in the past.
Yoko-Zuna’s reputation as a live band has grown and grown over the last few years as they have risen from being an underground band on the local scene to a band playing big new year festivals. It was this reputation which saw a sold-out audience gather to witness what was more akin to the old 60’s psychedelic happenings than a show as such, with imagery projected on to all the walls and ceiling, strobe lights, and an environment which largely gave way to a rave-like atmosphere.
The evening began with a bang in the form of Wax Chattels. This trio who call themselves a guitarless guitar band were outstanding as usual, playing with ferocious intensity and making this reviewer regret not bringing ear plus, it was that loud. It was also funny because I have been to a few Wax Chattels shows now and was waiting for a drum malfunction given how hard drummer Tom Leggett hits the skins and we finally got one, something lead singer Peter Ruddell described as a classic Wax Chattels moment.
By the end of Wax Chattels set, you could feel the audience felt spoiled getting not one but perhaps two of the best live bands in Aotearoa in one night... meaning by the time Yoko-Zuna took the stage, the crowd was amped and ready for more action.
It was at this point, the “show” transformed into a rave with Yoko-Zuna taking the crowd on a journey of instrumental hip-hop, electronic fusion, and spacey atmospheric funk.
The music was perfect for the amazing light and visual show that accompanied the band and the energy of which the band played had everyone in the venue up and dancing. It was so mesmerising visually it made it difficult to choose where to look, the stage or the walls.
If the performance of the band wasn’t enough... especially the wizard JY Lee and hype man Kenji who worked the crowd all evening... then what came next took the entire show into the stratosphere as the band bought out guest after guest of acts they have collaborated with over the years.
It was a procession of a who’s who in Aotearoa hip-hop with Tom Scott, MELODOWNZ, Team Dynamite, Raiza Biza, Bobandii and SWIDT all making appearances in the second half of the show, while the band was also joined by Bollywood dance group Indiance.
The venue also made for a great experience. I had never been to Raynham Park but it turned out to be perfect for this sort of extravaganza... in what appeared to be a disused office space/art studio above K-Road. Hopefully, more of this type of multi-media show is held there because it really did add to the experience with people able to wander around freely and enjoy the dance floor.
All-up, this was a great evening put on by a great band who have gone from strength to strength as a live act over the last three years. The response from the audience and the calibre of guests who showed up to support them is a testament of how highly regarded they are as musicians and as performers.
As for me... after their incredible album release concert... Yoko-Zuna have cemented their spot as one of the top-five live acts in the country.
Check out Sam Smith's 4-star album review of Yoko-Zuna's Voyager here.