Bonobo’s Live Show is Almost Too Good to Review

It takes a special breed of artist to calm down the neon wearing, kandi loving, drug enthused, 18+ rave crowd that usually makes their presence so known at most electronic music shows in and around Minneapolis. Simon Green, more commonly known as Bonobo, is that breed.

The show that he and opening act ODESZA brought to Minneapolis’ historic venue First Avenue on July 8th was a rare form of beauty, mesmerizing the crowd in its entirety from start to finish and showing those kandi ravers that sometimes the last thing you need at a show is a massive drop.

ODESZA was the perfect opener for the beautiful downtempo performance that Bonobo would later bring to the fine people of First Avenue that night. Also known as Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight from Seattle, ODESZA packed the house while it was still light outside, getting the crowd going early with high-energy tracks including favorites like “My Friends Never Die” and “We Were Young”. The duo impressed with their unexpected use of a drum kit during a few tracks, which added even more enthusiasm to their short but ridiculously entertaining and upbeat set. The highlight of their set for me was towards the end, when they dropped their recent remix of Pretty Lights’ “One Day They’ll Know”. PL’s A Color Map of the Sun  was by far my favorite album of last year and this rework of one of the best tracks off the album is flawless.


Odesza at First Avenue.

Following an excruciating 30-minute wait, Bonobo, with full live band in tow, finally took the stage. He immediately set the tone for the night by opening with “Cirrus”, a track off his last album “The North Borders”. He played a few more songs from the album, including “Kiara”, “Emkay”, “Sapphire”, and “Ten Tigers” before bringing Szjerdene on stage to accompany “Towers” and “Transits” with her ethereal vocals. Perhaps the best parts of this show were when Bonobo’s clarinetist and flutist got down on stage. Who knew a clarinet could hype up a crowd so much? I haven’t been that excited about woodwinds since 4th grade when I learned how to play “Mary had a Little Lamb” on the recorder.

Besides the group of girls next to me who decided that full-on grinding was an appropriate dance move for Bonobo’s exquisite sounds (sigh), the crowd was feeling the amazing vibes and it was obvious that Simon was doing a great job of satisfying the many different kinds of people that were in attendance that night.


The biggest testament that this show being so amazing is the fact that my freshly minted 18-year-old sister enjoyed it just as much as I did. This was her first concert ever, (besides a Bruce Springsteen tribute band she saw in ’09) and when I first showed her a few of Bonobo’s tracks she said it sounded like elevator music. I can’t blame her for expecting a wild dubsteppy rave (she watches a lot of TV) but the fact that she loved every second of this show despite not being a fan of his, or even a fan of electronic music in general, attests to the diverse talent of Bonobo and his ability to bring a wide range of styles to a single show.

In closing, if you ever get the chance to see Bonobo perform with a live band, please take advantage of it…or you might never forgive yourself.

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