A short walk round the back of Temple Meads station sits a looming abandoned car park, an eerie lake populated by silently gliding swans, and one of Bristol’s finest nightclubs – Motion. This is where Mount Kimbie were to take centre stage for their Love What Survives tour. The venue is basically a converted barn, with sparkling fairy lights across the roof, and a large balcony for the attendees less inclined to get a boogie on.
The crowd are beginning to fall through the entrance and wandering into the main room just in time for Kelly Lee Owens to take her place at the front of stage. This is her final night as support and she doesn’t let a second go to waste, building up stomping techno rhythms straight from the offset with her triangular arrangment of instruments and effects. A perfect warm up in many ways, Owens gets us tapping our feet before we realise it. With absorbed dancing and impulsively taking to the microphone to shout poetic statements, her presence on stage commanded a reciprocation of energy from the crowd which it got.
Then, after some lengthy setting up of equipment, Dom, Kai, and Andrea Balency and drummer Mark Helm take to their posts under the slowly building murmurings of ‘Four Years and One Day’. Through the show they would shift from station to station, playing, tapping and looping away in each spot. Most songs aren’t immediately recognisable, we are teased with glimmers of melodies and musical patterns that slowly weave together to form the full, recorded songs that we know and love. When the crowd figure out which tune is unfolding before them they react with gratitude and joy and once each song has finished you’d be hard pressed to find a more awestruck audience.
The instrumental nature of the music can be quite hard to navigate in a live setting, but I think there was a shared understanding between the performers and the listeners that the sound of each song is going to have a different meaning for most people, and that without the narrative structure that more wordy music can provide, the ambient/ instrumental tunes are likely to prompt different emotional responses in different people. Every dedicated fan in attendance held a different feeling of nostalgia brought on by the unearthly chords and clicking percussion.
It’s a shame Mount Kimbie make such great songs featuring such incredible and probably quite busy artists because the on stage trio found it hard to replicate the unique sounds of King Krule’s and Micachu’s voices without them present. Nevertheless, Dom stepped in to sing choruses on ‘Blue Train Lines’ and prompted a sing-along because it’s such a bloody ANTHEM, it was definitely a difficult thing to perform these hits missing that element though.
The highlights of the night included when Andrea Balency graduated from keyboard to microphone to deliver ‘You Look Certain, I’m Not So Sure’ where her vocal tones added a new layer to the performance. Mount Kimbie’s own instrumental bops like ‘Carbonated’ and ‘Made to Stray’ were adored by the crowd aswell and created a space in the front centre of the crowd for the more animated folk to show off their dance moves. ‘Delta’ from the new album sent the crowd into a frenzy too, and we were left immediately demanding their return to the stage for an encore when the song finished.
And what an encore they had lined up, perhaps their first hit in the music scene ‘Maybes’ was performed both with passion and great care, the intricate live drums not rising over Dom’s heartfelt vocal refrain – “Don’t go trying to tell me, you’re telling me what heart don’t don’t baby, don’t maybe”. The song falls away piece by piece and I suddenly have to leave for my train back to Cardiff before the final song. As I’m walking back past the creepy car park building I can hear ‘Before I Move Off’ playing from over the lake and I’m hit with some sort of live nostalgia for the gig I just came out of. Mount Kimbie create beautiful soundtracks for experience in their albums, their videos, and most definitely in their live shows too.
Listen to their new album Love What Survives here