By Thomas Johnson, June 21 2018 —
How many Wednesdays could you catch both Thundercat and Mount Kimbie? Probably not many. Sled Island is here. It’s gonna get weird.
Thundercat took to the Palace’s haze of neon and tobacco fumes at 10 p.m. in a navy driving cap and periwinkle-pink braids. According to the bouncer, the balcony level had to be opened to accommodate the mob hoping to take a flight with the cosmic bassist. The set-up was curiously minimal for the amount of sound they were able to produce — just a keyboardist, Thundercat’s brother Ronald Bruner on drums and the man himself manning solar flares. His bass was about the size of a medieval battle axe, which he wielded as such. A song would unfurl into a semi-competitive jam session between the trio. The showmanship was sublime. Thundercat’s stream-of-consciousness music and immunity to carpal tunnel was a sight to behold. The crowd was completely engaged but frozen in awe until a defined break wherein applause would erupt, all-but-stunned. The people hollered. A bro to my right asked for a piggyback.
England’s Mount Kimbie brought the first night to a close. They shone blue under Commonwealth’s lights and filled the main floor with their dense electro-pop experiments. The night’s other big-ticket trio, they plodded through a colourful set of juxtaposing heights and descents, intermittently swapping instruments. A backwash of geometric arrangements and vibrant colour blocks gave way to an epileptic light show as they rose to a swelling, blunt crescendo. Between the violent dissonance, brief moments of Daft Punk-style house were thrown about. By the end, the severity of the volume left the crowd in a daze. Someone next to me said, “This is how it all breaks down, man.” “The song?” “Nah, your sanity.”
Kimbie cleared the stage shortly before 1:30 a.m. The crowd ambled out through the front door, through a curtain of cigarette smoke, their eardrums having taken enough of a beating for the night. A fitful and inadequate sleep was in order for Day 2.