You get the sense that Scottish electro-hip-hop trio Young Fathers enjoy playing the intimate venues — like the cozy Moroccan Lounge in DTLA on Wednesday night. You can feel the bass reverberating through your ribcage, the same way you feel the poetry of their words float through your soul.
The show kicked off a busy week in LA for the trio of Alloysious Massaquoi, Kays Bankole, and G Hastings. On Thursday, they played an in-store at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, and on Friday and Saturday they join LCD Soundsystem and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Hollywood Bowl. But it’s in spaces like the Moroccan Lounge that they really flourish.
There are few if any acts I can think of that have a sound even remotely similar to Young Fathers. That uniqueness translates to their live show. I remember catching them play an early-afternoon set at Hangout Fest in 2015 and being wowed at how they used samples and used their voices as instruments. Three years later it appears they’ve only gotten more confident as live performers having won a number of accolades in the time since.
They pulled a lot of material from this year’s release Cocoa Sugar, an album that featured slightly heavier production than their previous efforts. The track “Toy” — which they just dropped a video for — was a personal favorite.
The trio mostly uses backing tracks but occasionally play a little percussion and synths while singing. There is a full-time drummer in Steven Morrison who helped keep people’s ears ringing.
“Holy Ghost” is a standout from the latest record, the final bars “You can tell your deity I’m alright / Wake up in the bed, call me Jesus Christ” delivered in an almost Mystikal-esque fashion.
The band of course played “Shame” — the hit that first brought them to my attention thanks to KCRW. That was how they wrapped up their set. The rhythm of the track reminds me a lot of genre-mate Little Dragon. It’s hard to put Young Fathers into a genre, with some rap elements to go with their R&B and rock vibes.
It’s impossible to put Young Fathers into a box, and it felt like that’s just how they like it. I look forward to seeing them pop up on bills with a wide array of acts like this weekend’s Hollywood Bowl gig, as well as headlining their own cozier shows along the way.
Photos by Tim Aarons