Kaleo rocks the blues off their musical jeans
MILES MITCHELL | THE USD VISTA | CONTRIBUTOR
This weekend, Kaleo brought their rock-blues inspired sound right where it belongs, to the San Diego House of Blues in an energetic, dynamic performance. The up-and-coming group has had impressive, growing success, that was validated by the sound and spectacle of their Saturday evening concert.
The Icelandic quartet kickstarted the Way Down We Go 2016 Tour presented by SeriusXM in February at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville, TN. The show in downtown San Diego at the infamous venue on Fifth Avenue concluded their North American tour. The culmination of a successful, sold out tour was celebrated by an animated mix of loyal listeners and those just beginning to venture into the sound of Kaleo.
Amongst the crowd was senior Ryan Purington, who was seeing the band for the first time.
“Those first few songs were pretty surprising,” Purington said. “Someone told me they were an Icelandic folk band, so I was kind of thinking it would be like Of Monsters & Men. This was a lot better than that.”
Kaleo is made up of Jökull Júlíusson, vocals and guitar; Davíð Antonsson, drums and vocals; Daníel Ægir Kristjánsson, bass; Rubin Pollock, lead guitar.
The band officially formed with the addition of Pollock to the trio who were already regularly playing together. They named the band Kaleo which means “the sound” in Hawaiian, and started their career together in 2012 at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. They quickly gained attention with a live radio show cover of a classic Icelandic ballad, “Vor í vaglaskógi,” which went viral and led to their signing with Iceland’s largest record label, Sena.
Kaleo opened up the show with their foot-stomping “No Good,” kickstarting their set with powerful vocal screams reminiscent of AC/DC from Júlíusson along with many intense peaks of energy.
Phenomenal guitar leads from Pollock were electrifying, enough to joyfully rattle the bones of the great rock ‘n roll guitar gods from the days of Jimi Hendrix. Antonsson displayed his dynamic drumming ability, utilizing the tambourine to level out the rock tones with a hints of folk. He was often jumping up from the drums to play standing up, which kept his position eye-catching and fun to watch.
Now signed with Atlantic Records, Kaleo has since toured with artist Vance Joy, and has quickly grown outside of the realm of Iceland. The group has gained attention from their U.S. national TV debut on Conan O’Brien Presents: Team Coco. Their music was also featured in USA Network’s program, Suits, as well as and various plugs into the music soundsphere, such as official Spotify playlists and SeriusXM’s AltNation.
Kaleo was joined by supporting artist, Firekid, an Atlantic Records artist hailing from the famous music town, Muscle Shoals, AL. Firekid’s, the stage name for Dillon Hodges, ability to shape rural, bluegrass and country with contemporary pop positions his sound between the old and the new. Hodges, a young artist with an old soul, incorporated small elements of electronic aspects into his music and was a pleasant complement to the era mashing sound of Kaleo. His showy, proficient guitar-picking was a spectacle for the San Diego crowd.
Although San Diego marked the end of their official tour, Kaleo will continue to play their way across the country this summer. They will immerse themselves in the culture of American summer music festivals playing in a handful of events such as, Bottlerock Festival in California, Sasquatch! Music Festival in Washington, and Firefly Music Festival in Delaware.
As the popularity of Kaleo continues to grow, Toreros will surely hear the nostalgic rock n’ roll tunes again in the future.