Concert Review: The Kooks


The Kooks at Bird's Surf Shed. Photo by Tyler Sivero.

By Tyler Sivero

The Kooks
Bird’s Surf Shed
September 18, 2011

Last weekend I was driving on the freeway when I heard that The Kooks would be playing a free show in San Diego on Sunday, Sept. 18. When I heard the announcement I actually found it hard to believe. When I got home I went to the website for 94.9, the station where I had heard the promotion and found that not only was it real but it was off of Morena Blvd. –  literally down the street from USD and where I live. A few days later on Sunday, I was there.

The venue was a surf shop; Bird’s Surf Shed is located at 1091 Morena Blvd and it really is a shed. The shed was a half circle and had boards going all the way up the walls and practically over your head. Being a surfer, I couldn’t have been happier seeing a concert for The Kooks in a surf shop. I’ve listened to The Kooks since high school and find them as one of those bands I can go through the whole album in one sitting. For me, they are a band I can just put on shuffle while I work.

The show was to promote their new album Junk of the Heart that came out a few weeks before. I got there an hour early and a line had already begun to form down the street. A half hour before the show time of 3 p.m. the surf shop started to fill with people. At 3:30 p.m. The Kooks finally came out on the quaint stage. The quiet but giddy crowd erupted. Who wouldn’t at a free show for a band you actually like?

The band opened with their hit from the new album, “Junk of the Heart (Happy).” The song was greeted with much approval from the audience. Many heads were bobbing and people singing along. As The Kooks shifted to their next song “Rosie” it became apparent many had not actually listened to the new album but they still bounced along. The new album still has the signature components fans can expect from The Kooks, such as alternating songs between acoustic and electric guitars chord progressions. Yet, it is noticeable that some of the songs on the new album have an instrumental or classical line such as a piano or strings of an orchestra that were not found in the previous albums. The short set they played did not display any of these new qualities necessarily. The last song they played before their encore was “Eskimo Kiss.” Yes, I did say last song before the encore. They played a three-song set with a one-song encore. Hey, it was free, and I understand they were promoting their album. This song did not disappoint as to what one would expect from The Kooks. Beloved lead singer Luke even freestyled some guitar riffs during the song.

When they did come out for an encore, Luke jokingly asked “Should we play an old one?”. As the upbeat strumming of “Ooh La” filled the surf shed the crowd exploded. It seemed as if everyone knew the words and sung along. As The Kooks made their final walk off the stage, many were surprised by how short the show was. Still, The Kooks put on an amazing show and displayed they can reproduce their distinct sound to a tee. Overall, I couldn’t have been happier to see a band I had yet to check off my list since they rarely come to America. I was even happier to know that I saw them for free in an intimate setting whereas they have been known to play day-long music festivals elsewhere. I left with the feeling of a perfect Sunday afternoon.