Steve Kimock has been an integral figure throughout much of my musical journey. After seeing him and Bobby Vega with Zero in 1996, I was immediately captivated and spent the next three years seeing them as much as possible with their various bands. For the past year, I have been on a complete sabbatical from Kimock land, choosing to focus most of my energy with different types of music. Somehow I knew that things would come full circle and the time would arise when we would meet again. Little did I know that I would be organizing a show for the Steve Kimock Band at The Edge in Santa Barbara on Friday, May 18. It all happened very fast. And before I could say “Tangled Hangers,” Steve, Bobby, Mitch and Rodney were hosing us down with their cutting edge concoction of unchained talent and spirited improvisation.
I love the new Steve Kimock Band. Mitch Stein is a fabulous guitarist who can solo as well as lay down the base for Kimock to cruise at will. Rodney Holmes is the one everybody’s talking about... and for good reason. He has a unique style which reminds me a little of Billy Cobham. Very delicate, yet extremely explosive. These guys have such good chops that they just know what kind of touch each song needs. They both have wonderful, upbeat attitudes and it is clear that they are contributing to shifting the overall energy of the band. The Steve Kimock Band has leaped into the new millennium in a big way.
Before the show Steve was writing the setlist and talking about the songs to the other musicians. I was amused by the fact that Rodney and Mitch hardly knew the old songs. Steve had to sing the melody of “Cole’s Law” and “It’s Up to You” to get some recognition. I respect these guys even more knowing that they were able to nail everything without being totally familiar. And, let me add, I was feeling kind of psychic with Steve picking up on my intense desire to hear both of those songs. The band didn’t hit the stage til 10:45 and it wasn’t a minute too soon.
From the first bouncy notes of “Baby Baby” the fresh energy of SKB was quite evident. The groove was slower and very well punctuated. Mitch took a solo early on which embodied the hard-edge he brings to the band. He has some unusual effects that work pretty well with a lot of their songs. The second tune was “The Long Form Pt.4” which is a segment of a multi-tiered composition they’ve been having some fun with. It was at this point that the show really started to take off. The band quickly ventured into a complex rhythmic pattern that reached a big peak before giving way to a meaty drum solo. I was impressed that Rodney was taking the spotlight so early in the show. I am not much for drum solos, but this one was on fire. We’re really on a roll here as the next song to report was the much revered “Cole’s Law.” This was the first Kimock song I ever heard (thanks Tobes) and it has always felt like the soundtrack to my life. “Cole’s Law” just oozes specialness. This version was immaculate. It had it all. The peaks were felt to the core and the climax at the end went the extra lap that makes all the difference. What a treat! Next was “Rocco”, a simple song written by Bobby Vega in honor of his son. I have always liked this one and Friday’s was the best thanks to Mitch and Steve’s interaction on top of the vicious rhythm section.
Set one was a decadent ice cream sundae which received the inevitable, ripe, delicious cherry on top in the form of “It’s Up to You.” I turned to a friend who hadn’t seen them before and said, “this is the Kimock Dark Star.” What a pleasure it’s been to hear so many drastically different versions of this celestial treasure. A few years ago, this song took on a new life as Steve developed what had been just the intro into a song in itself. The intro of “It’s Up to You” at the Edge was pristine and so fulfilling that when the lick came around again I wondered if the song was already over. Not even close. The jam that followed was a monstrous rush of notes, spiraling energy into the great beyond. At this point one can only hold on and pray that the ground will still be there when you open your eyes. After the chaos had ensued, the band broke it down a bit which was really nice. Mitch helped lead back into the theme using a dramatic tone with some underwater distortion. This epic version clocked in at about 16 minutes and left everyone completely blissed. It felt like a whole show in a set.
Set two was short at just over fifty minutes due to the 1:30 curfew and a late start time. The band did a great job of packing as much punch into that time as possible. They opened with Part One of “The Long Form.” It was interesting to hear the end of the song before the beginning (almost along the Star Wars sequel/prequel theme). “The Long Form, Part 1” is an epic composition which traverses many moods and soundscapes. By the conclusion twenty minutes later, the listener feels like they have come a long way . Song two was the debut of “Mozambique,” a jam that I had been blown away by during sound check. The band drew us in with a spacey, jungle vibe heavily influenced by Mitch’s effects. This warm, ambient atmosphere soon gave way to a thick, syncopated groove which meandered through some funky terrain. “Bobzilla” got his cue and began to march over a few small villages. It is a real turn on to hear Kimock and the band break things down and tap in to “the One.” “Mozambique” reflected the ease with which these four musicians communicate onstage. They were all of a sudden in the zone without even knowing how they got there.
At this point in the show I was getting antsy because I knew we were short on time and that the set was going to be inhibited. I was just praying for as much action as possible to be channeled into the last song. That wish came true on the wings of “Avalon,” a song that is as enchanting as its name. It is a triumphant tune of celebration and forward movement driving us all to reach towards the sky. They lifted the audience higher and higher with wave after wave of pleasure until there could be no more. It was definitely one of those nights where you wished that the band would just keep on playing all night.
Thank you to everyone involved with the show for co-creating such a magickal night. Special thanks to everyone at JamBase for being a “beacon of light in a world of flight.” Hats off to Andy for planting the seed for this show. And thanks a million for creating this phenomenal, user-friendly service known as JamBaseTicketing which is shifting the ticket-buying process into a place of empowerment. Finally, extra special gratitude to Raven Dancing Star for everything you did. The show would not have been possible without you. You’re the yummiest. Thanks for listening everybody and make sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next So.Cal event brought to you with much love and great care by Pillow Talk.
The Steve Kimock Band
5.18.00 | The Edge | Santa Barbara, CA
1: Baby Baby, The Long Form Pt.4, Cole’s Law, Rocco, It’s Up To You
2: The Long Form Pt.1, Mozambique>Avalon