Photos and words by Siena Biales and Dylan Leonard
The Red Room at Cafe 939 in Boston was the perfect place for GoGo Penguin’s performance on Tuesday, April 26. Its cozy atmosphere and low stage provided the crowd with an intimate show.
The band’s instruments lay waiting alongside the audience until GoGo Penguin quietly took the stage and began to play their first number, “All Res”, without a word. The Manchester, England-based trio played with the mind-numbing technical proficiency of math-rock crossed with the raw emotion of jazz.
Each member of GoGo Penguin, pianist Chris Illingworth, drummer Rob Turner and double bassist Nick Blacka, used their instrument in a unique way; Illingworth used his hand to dampen the strings of the piano, Turner ran a bow across his cymbals to create unique sounds, and Blacka dragged his finger slowly up the frets of his bass to create a climbing pitch and increasing the tension of the music while keeping with its jazzy feel.
Watching Illingworth play piano was absolutely entrancing. The music’s intricate rhythms required his hands to play entirely separate parts. Each hand acted as its own graceful instrument and bounced with their songs, especially during the very energetic performance of “Unspeakable World”. Blacka was equally as captivating to watch. He used a mixture of plucking and bowing, along with effects pedals, to create insane sounds with his cello. Every solo that he played resulted in clapping and cheering from the crowd, and rightly so. During their rendition of “Branches Break”, Turner put chains on his cymbals and used a combination of bowls and shakers to create a shocking array of sounds.
GoGo Penguin truly has a knack for creating dynamic music. Their set was a great mix of louder pieces and more laidback songs, with some moments of the show crescendoing into a playing frenzy while other parts were beautifully mellow. Concertgoers gently banged their heads to the manic beat like lost metalheads who wandered into the show and became transfixed. Overall, it was a fantastic concert with great energy.