GoGo Penguin at SWX

Even before GoGo Penguin stepped onstage, the atmosphere in SWX was palpably different. The club, still reeking afresh of the weekend’s debauchery, was buzzing—nay, politely humming—with swathes ofmiddle aged jazz aficionados. Punctuating these masses were sparsely littered students, the scantily clad young, slightly bemused in the throng of smart-casual dressers. I digress. As the stage lit up, these superficial differences instantly dissolved. The crowd was lost in smokey white, dramatically back-lighting the band as they walked onstage. The crowd went wild; I must stress, Chris Illingworth, Nick Blacka, and Rob Turner greeted our rabid shrieks with the coolest indifference. As they silently picked up (or sat down at) their instruments, the message was abundantly clear: GoGo Penguin were not fucking around. Friends, they were here to play. And play they did, beginning with an effortlessly cool rendition of Prayer. What struck me immediately was the sheer drama of their performance: Despite being a taciturn trio (if you will) with minimal chatter to accompany their minimalist brand of leftfield piano jazz, the intricate sounds filled the large venue with absolute ease. The heartwrenching beauty of Hopopono was driven home by the atmospheric light show, which drenched the whole audience in a dreamlike white glow. The show finished with Reactor, a dark and almost neurotic number from the trio’s new album. Once they stopped, the absence of jittering drums was almost jarring. The trio left as silently as they came on. The white lights were gone and we were, again, an excited and confused mass of 21 and 46 year olds.