The Midas Touch: Electric Kif and Anemoia at Dunedin Brewery
I swear my ears must have the Midas touch. Everything they’ve been hearing recently has been pure gold. That began in earnest July 22 seeing King Crimson and then NOW VS NOW and two days later catching Guavatron and The Reality. Then there was a superb night with Side Hustle and Andrew Scotchie & the River Rats. It happened again while writing about Urban Soil and listening to their outstanding new album City Dirt and one more time listening to a stunning avant jazz album by Ambrose Akinmushire (On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment).
Wait! One more: The Nels Cline Singers’ Share the Wealth. (Hint: there are no singers — well, Cyro Baptista a little bit — but Cline, Skerik, Brian Marsella, Scott Amendola, and Trevor Dunn!)
And Thursday night, August 19, that Midas magic happened again, at Dunedin Brewery. I almost missed it. Fortunately, George reminded me about the show last week, but then I thought about staying home. I was richly rewarded for going, as was every person there that night.
The “main” band was Electric Kif, one of Florida’s greatest fusion/prog rock bands. Opening for them was Anemoia. WHAT? WHO? If you caught that show May 24 in Miami (I wish) with Skerik, Stanton Moore, and John Medeski, you saw this trio.
I missed the first 15 minutes of the set. By the time I got there, Anemoia was trying to burn down the brewery; they were raging on fire. Comparisons, in the event you are familiar, might include Green Light, Signal Path, and Scott Henderson’s Tribal Tech. It was astonishing: avant garde, brilliant, challenging, incredibly tight in both compositions and performance. Drummer Armando Lopez is also the man at kit for Electric Kif. The guitar player was simply off the… planet.
Part way through, I realized that he was Aaron Lebos, the man behind Aaron Lebos Reality, yet another amazing South Florida fusion/prog rock band. Then I grokked that I had seen this same trio under that name — twice — also featuring Andres Ferret on bass. The set was seriously out of this world. My notes are totally useless; I was too stunned to scribble anything coherent. It was genius, tightly-woven magic from all three. New daddy and DunBrew proprietor Michael Lyn Bryant and I exchanged wide-eyed nods, both of us agreeing: “I LOVE THIS SHIT!”
Fortunately, Rodrigo “Digo” Zambrano, bass player for EK, said he was recording both sets. I’m looking forward to sharing proof, even if it is “just YouTube.” Five of the tracks were from the band’s self-titled debut; their new album should be available soon.
[Anemoia: Locust, Innit, The Leak, Gnossienne No. 1, Wind Up, ‘Spuma, About Wind, BTL, The Ville, Grief Bacon]
As we gushed at set break, i joked with drummer-for-the-night Lopez that his next band was going to have a tough time matching his first band.
And, as usual, I was wrong. (I’d call it a tie.) Electric Kif came out of the gate at 90 MPH and just kept their collective foot on the gas. A number of Kif fans later agreed we had never seen them roar so powerfully start to finish. As brilliant as they have always been, this set was also truly astonishing.
They launched at the aforementioned 90 MPH (might be a low estimate) with the title track from their outstanding 2019 album Jefe. Everybody was lit! Lopez, all warmed up after that amazing Anemoia set, kept everybody on the one, in step with bassist Rodrigo ‘Digo’ Zambrano, who had a HUGE night. They tore it up completely on “Spider,” a tune from Heist (2017). All I could scribble was WOW. Guitarist Eric Escanes always impresses, but, to my mind, this was the best I’ve ever heard him.
The band’s new album, Dreamlike, was just released, and they blasted next through two of the tracks. Zambrano and bass owned “Sonar,” followed by a stunning tracked called “FMB.” All around the room, you could see faces melting and minds totally blown. For real.
Jason Matthews on keyboards stepped to the fore (he was there all along, to be sure) for the Jaco Pastorius composition “Teentown” of Weather Report fame. Matthews gets much closer to Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea than Joe Zawinul, which works just fine for me. And Zambrano does Jaco justice. That is, I believe, the ultimate compliment.
Electric Kif had been veering back and forth from fusion to prog. They went deep prog next on “King Paimon” (Jefe). This was the longest, most wicked version I’ve heard, and I’ve heard quite a few. Another new tune, “Marrakush,” walked the fence between the two genres; actually, much of the band’s canon does.
Next up was a surprise: a lovely tune that somehow sounded familiar. Jess, Harv, and I were straining to figure out what it was. I couldn’t peg it. They thought maybe Crusaders; all I knew was that Matthews was channeling Herbie Hancock. We demanded to know what it was: Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” from his 1970 gem Fat Albert Rotunda. Nicely done!
Then Electric Kif kicked SO MUCH ASS there were no names left to be taken… anywhere. They reached waaaay back into their bag of tricks for “Labrats.” Its power reminds of “Hang Up Your Hang-Ups,” but this song rocks even harder. Jaw-dropping.
Since it was Casey’s birthday, they honored her with a rocked-out “National Anthem,” a Radiohead cover, and we collectively melted into a puddle.
[Electric Kif: Zawinul Drums & Bass > Jefe, Spider, Sonar*, FMB*, Teentown, King Paimon, Marrakush*, Tell Me a Bedtime Story, Labrats; E: National Anthem (Radiohead)]
SERIOUS TALK. If you have the chance to see Electric Kif OR Anemoia (OR both!), run, DON’T walk to the show!
Thanks to John Strojny of Silent J Studios for preserving the night via photos!
Also, here is the emoji version of the Electric Kif setlist: