Kid Congo Powers & the Pink Monkey Birds at The Echo: Just the Right Amount of Weird

Kid Congo Powers and The Pink Monkey Birds
Kid Congo Powers and The Pink Monkey Birds

Last week at The Echo, Los Angeles was treated to and most interesting and fun night of music featuring Kid Congo Powers and The Pink Monkey Birds, along with San Francisco act Uke-Hunt and L.A. band, Tramp for the Lord.

The show opened with Tramp for the Lord, who I’ve heard referred to as Church Slut. They give off the appearance of everyone’s dad from the Midwest, but when they started playing, their bluesy guitarist caught the attention of those that were filtering in. In attendance were some regulars of the Echo Park indie scene, but mixed in with some seasoned punks and retired hippies who may or may not have had orgies with some members of the Pink Monkey Birds. The eclectic audience sported more aged leather and patched denim than I have ever seen in one place. A Tramp in a trucker hat, on shakers and random percussion, seemed like he’d just wandered onstage and the band decided to roll with it and let him stay.

Next came a change of pace with Uke Hunt, a band with as an effortless sense of humor – as you’d probably expect if you say their name out loud. They immediately engaged the crowd, “You guys like music? Well you’re gonna love this.” The frontman, donning classic sunglasses and a winning smile, cited a different city in California as their hometown between each song as he switched ukuleles. He had the vocal range of Billy Joel and was aided by the rest of the band on backup vox. Their tongue-in-cheek set list consisted of innocent ballads, lounge tunes, and doo wop covers from the 1950s that inspired the entire front row to pick a partner and slow dance with strangers. Their genre is hard to classify: whatever you might call a band with one member switching between the sax, handsaw, harmonica, keys, melodica, xylophone, and an instrument called a Stylophone (look it up!) and covering Skeeter Davis’s “The End of the World.”

Kid Congo Powers and The Pink Monkey Birds
Kid Congo Powers and The Pink Monkey Birds

Die-hard fans of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds or The Cramps may have already seen this coming, but it was my Kid Congo Powers deflowering experience. Watching him flutter and creep onto the stage like Cartilage Jones, the man with no bones, the crowd lost it. His band followed suit, and the introduction of the first song went something like, “Let’s all dive into the haystack of our minds and what do we find…? A peanut.”

Kid’s Mexican American roots influenced the psychedelic set, which was one part Chicano rock, one part funky soul, and coalesced into raw, unprotected rock ‘n roll sex. Watching him flutter and creep onto the stage like Cartilage Jones, the man with no bones, the crowd lost it. The Kid’s growling vocals, half spoken word and not always discernable, were supported by the Pink Monkey Birds textural tremolo, and built to a synesthetic sensory overload within each and every song. The crowd swayed and belted out the lyrics to his Cramps tune, blended with Kid’s electric energy, and created a (real or imagined) drug trip that gathered momentum and transformed The Echo into a 70s basement well into the night.

Words and Photography: Sharee Allen

Tramp for the Lord
Tramp for the Lord

Tramp for the Lord
Tramp for the Lord

Uke Hunt
Uke Hunt

Uke Hunt
Uke Hunt

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