So it was about 7am, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving of last year; I had spent the previous 6 hour aimlessly wandering LAX without a plane ticket, and less than an hour later I would be unceremoniously asked to leave the airport after trying to sneak through security without said place ticket. Such was the moment that I first listened to GoGo Penguin. The album I listened to that morning v2.0 and to a lesser extent the band's third release Man Made Object have since redefined my conception of modern jazz.
I had envisioned GoGo Penguin performing in a more "jazz club" sort of venue such as The Blue Whale or The Baked Potato, but the Teragram Ballroom turned out to be the perfect size venue to capture the group's explosive sound. I only wish the audience had been a bit less talkative, particularly during some of the quieter parts of the show. That said, the Manchester-based band truly gave us a worthy performance, burning through an 80 minute set with only a couple short breaks to talk to the audience.
I truly think the best way to get to know GoGo Penguin's music is to listen to their records, so I'm only gonna highlight a couple things here that were especially notable when seen live. First off, the band is incredibly sensitive to the tones of their instruments. From odd bass plucks, to muted piano strings, to drummer Rob Turner utilizing a variety of innovative stickings and subtle drum modifications, the band will truly stop at nothing to achieve the sounds they desire. Additionally, the band's groove came through especially well, complete with odd-time dancing that could be seen throughout the audience. The band also performed some new, unreleased material that features some of their heaviest rhythms yet. Finally, I've always been amazed how the musicians in GoGo Penguin are able to achieve a simultaneously mechanically precise and beautifully human touch with their music. Their ability to translate that aspect of their music to be even more potent in a live setting is a testament to their outstanding musicianship.
In all, I find GoGo Penguin's music to be a beautiful look into the future, considering how technological precision and human inspiration can come together to touch the most fundamental physical and spiritual aspects of humanity. Definitely check out their music, and I highly recommend seeing them live if you have the chance.
BY JATIN CHOWDHURY, JAZZ DIRECTOR & DJ
JAM SESSIONS- THURSDAYS, 10:00 PM - 11:00 PM