The stage is empty, backdrop projections of transforming light and shapes fill the space as a noise loop continues on repeat. A white guitar rests alone in a chair, mirroring background projections and tracing surges of light on its clean frame. Kaki King enters the stage wearing all white. She sits down in the dark, shadowed against a backdrop of ever changing design, and begins to play. Kaki scratches her guitar with pick in hand and begins to bang, as if it were an instrument of percussion or something of the like. The guitar lights up like a night sky, a kind of exploration through space as if the sky had opened up and only the plucking of strings could be heard. Those who watch are entranced as light bounces off her. Her performance feels like a spiritual or meditative journey, connecting the unconscious and the external world. It is an intertwining of all things present. Abstract projections play on repeat behind her frame as she continues to scratch and drum on the guitar’s body, to loop and layer melodies. Some unspoken calm falls over this body of strangers.
Kaki’s guitar forms an intricate line drawing that is echoed behind her, creating a conversation out of strings. She later announces that the guitar, at times, dictates what we see behind her on the screen; the notes themselves are forming images. Halfway through her set, the xylophone player of Glockabelle joins her in collaboration. Handwritten words are drawn on screen as the xylophone jumps into layers of guitar. “Are you here?” Is written out. The audience screams to answer. As Kaki transitions into her next song, images are now projected onto the body of her guitar. Various photographs of nature, a rollercoaster, and bees buzzing, all projects like a flashback. She picks up the tempo of her picking as the images flash more rapidly, as if the many patterns, encounters, and moments of your life were displayed before your very eyes. It forces you to be present. It is a kind of guided meditation for the here and now, as if she has picked up pieces of the universe and strung them together, creating something hand stitched. These projections are everyday scenes that all of a sudden seem monumental; they gather an increased significance while she plays. The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body is Kaki King speaking through her guitar, while giving it its own voice.
In order to give the guitar its own life, Kaki projects a video about the guitar’s daily adventures, creating its own story and personifying it in film. It is a comedic venture into the inner world of her instrument as the audience erupts in laughter. It is a universal story that emphasizes the importance of being persistent in what you love, no matter what. When the video ends, Kaki takes off the white sunglasses she’s been wearing throughout the night and speaks for the first time. She’s incredibly humble, recites humorous stories of her life, and gives a heartfelt thanks to everyone who is watching her play tonight. She tells the audience to keep doing what we enjoy most, despite what anyone else may say. Before she exits the stage, she sits down to play one more as the audience gazes up with bright eyes. Even I myself feel more at ease with life itself.
Article: Lindsay Skedgell