2/26/16 – Brighton Music Hall

It’s no surprise that the man who sings the hit “All The Pretty Girls” is a pretty boy.

All eyes were on Kaleo frontman Jökull Júlíusson. With the first half of his shirt left casually unbuttoned and the front of his hair gelled to maintain a perfect a side swept look, it’s safe to say the crowd wasn’t just admiring his shining, red electric guitar.

You didn’t need to notice the fashionable pinstriped pants or brown leather Oxfords to understand that clearly appearance matters to Kaleo. They had brought their own lighting equipment and fog machines to set the stage– a welcome addition to Brighton Music Hall’s charming but limited light setup.

Glimmering white and blue lights recreated an underwater scene for “I Walk On Water” and flashes punctuated the hard rock unreleased material. The crowd swooned through their most popular numbers, including some impressive, live whistling on “I Can’t Go On Without You,” and “All The Pretty Girls,” which has drawn countless Bon Iver comparisons and drove their initial success.

It’s not typical for bands to run through their fan favorites so early in the set, but it was a smart move considering the band took a while to warm to the crowd. Those who had come expecting Justin Vernon soundalikes would have been disappointed, though judging from the plaid drought that hit Brighton Music Hall, the hipsters were few and far between.

With a smoky cover of Cher’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” Kaleo seduced the crowd, inciting nearby women to send texts to their friends like: “my ovaries are exploding.” Then, the band admirably invited a harmonica-wielding Berklee student onstage for “Automobile,” a song edging on country, complete with dusty desert and car imagery.

There was a notable shift at this time– the music no longer flirted with the slower folky sound of “All The Pretty Girls” and instead, exploded into a bustier rock ’n’ roll. And the audience was more than ready for it. The delicate, feather-like falsetto was swapped for growly howls and gritty guitar riffs reminiscent of the White Stripes or the Black Keys. “I won’t work for the man, I won’t think like a soldier” Júlíusson sang, lyrics fit for a rock anthem.

The band began headbanging through grinding guitar solos and jumping up and down with the crowd. They led the audience in call and response sing-alongs, helping them learn lyrics to songs yet unreleased in the States. The goatee-ed harmonica player continued to earn whoops from the crowd, and at one point played a solo that hit jaw-droppingly high notes.

By the end of it the band had loosened up, but of course, Júlíusson’s perfect poof of hair still stayed stiffly upright.

Iceland's Pretty Boys: Kaleo
PROS
  • Their sound expanded beyond their hit song
  • That harmonica though
  • Light show
CONS
  • Took a while to warm up to the crowd
8.2Overall Score