KONGOS at Crescent Ballroom, October 2016

Coverage/Photos By: Devon Adams

Kongos conclude US Egomaniac tour in Phoenix at Crescent Ballroom

Local favorites Kongos, the quartet from Paradise Valley, released their new album Egomaniac through Epic Records in June 2016 before embarking on a North American tour that concluded on October 29, 2016 at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix. This photographer has been following Kongos over the years from small private shows of two dozen people at the Rogue Bar in Scottsdale, AZ and the 2013 TMI on KWSS showcase at SXSW in Austin, TX to larger shows like Summer Ends Music Festival 2014 and 93.3 FM’s FestivALTAZ supporting Nate Ruess in April 2016 in Phoenix. Having played a sold out show at the Crescent Ballroom in late 2012 before signing with Epic Records it was apropos that the Kongos finished their successful U.S. Egomaniac tour at this venue surrounded by friends and family.  

Kongos at Dia de los Kongos on October 29, 2016 by Devon Christopher Adams.

Kongos at Dia de los Kongos on October 29, 2016 by Devon Christopher Adams.

The show started in late afternoon with a special acoustic set for special guests and family that included parents John & Shelley Kongos, drummer Jesse’s  wife. For larger shows the Crescent Ballroom blocks off the parking lot to the west of the venue with a large stage situated at the far end of the area. After the intimate session, the VIP meet & greet ticket holders filtered in for photo ops with the brothers shot by longtime tour photographer Jonny Marlow. Those fans received signed posters, signed VIP passes, and other Egomaniacs swag.

Always honoring their home town music, Kongos handpicked local Arizona bands Treasure Fruit, The Technicolors, Nanami Ozone, and The Technicolors to round out a bill that including supporting act The Joy Formidable, a welsh three piece band that quickly became a crowd favorite. The audience moved between the large outside stage and smaller inside stage as there was very little lull in music starting at 7:30 and moving into the early morning hours with a DJ set by Johnny & Jesse themselves.

Kongos at Dia de los Kongos on October 29, 2016 by Devon Christopher Adams.

Kongos at Dia de los Kongos on October 29, 2016 by Devon Christopher Adams.

Earlier in the evening audience members could find Dylan and Jesse walking around the crowd talking to old friends and making new ones, but as the venue filled the brothers disappeared to their tour bus backstage until their 10:20pm stage time. After The Joy Formidable closed their set with songs that included “The Last Thing on My Mind” and “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie”, Kongos took the stage to cheering fans.

As the lights dipped, the projector screens came up on stage and the band tore in a rocking rendition of “Repeat After Me” that continues to impress how seamlessly the four brothers perform together as a single, smooth and talented entity. Throughout the 90 minute set what struck me was that the strongest songs from Egomaniac aren’t necessarily sung by drummer Jesse or bassist Dylan who are the main vocalists on their earlier work. Songs like “Where I Belong” (showcased by guitarist Danny on vocals) and the quirky “Birds Do it” (by Johnny on both accordion and vox) held their own with fan favorites like “Come With Me Now” and “I Want to Know”. All four brothers wrote songs for Egomaniac and the balance between the entire quartet makes Egomaniac a strong album. A balance between fan faves from from Lunatic and Egomaniac during this show led to a hugely successful evening.

Kongos at Dia de los Kongos on October 29, 2016 by Devon Christopher Adams.

Kongos at Dia de los Kongos on October 29, 2016 by Devon Christopher Adams.

Highlights for me included the power of “Autocorrect” that demonstrates an artistic hive mind to hit every vocal, note, and light cue perfectly and also the beautifully crafted “Escape” that allowed the band to balance in your face energy with more introspective ballads. Now, had the played “Sex on the Radio” one of my favorites from Lunatic, the night would’ve been complete.

While Kongos are talented in their own right, they are rock n roll royalty as the sons of John Kongos who hit is big with “Tokoloshe Man” in 1971. During this show they covered their father’s number one hit after a shout out to their parents who were in attendance.




Next up for the band, a relaxing holiday season with family after a whirlwind 2016 finishing Egomaniac early in the year, releasing it in the summer, and touring into late fall.







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