There are bands whose appeal can span generations. Thankfully, Kero Kero Bonito is not one of those bands. It’s music crafted exclusively for millennials’ ears. You can conclude as much after listening to a song like “Graduation”, where singer Sarah Midori Perry sings “Today's my graduation, so long to education / Didn't learn a thing anyway.” But like other artists signed to unique pop label PC Music, Kero Kero Bonito has found a passionate audience for their quirky and very niche take on bubblegum pop, one that takes cues from J-pop, dancehall, and video games. And judging by their performance, they know exactly what they are doing and the audience they’re going for.
Donning a huge pink fur coat and glitter-laced makeup, Perry tied the group’s quirky nature together. Her vocal style (reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoon characters) combined with her English-then-Japanese singing and rapping isn’t in danger of being replicated by other Western pop singers, if at all. Bandmates and producers Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled provided the straightforward and catchy melodies, but their biggest contribution was their on-stage antics and dancing. They often picked up props sitting on their table of equipment to shimmy and shake, like with a stuffed flamingo during “Flamingo” and peering through a rolled-up diploma during “Graduation”. Together, their antics are deliberate and delightfully strange, a nice breath of fresh air in pop music that likes to increasingly rely on shock value.
It’s safe to say that there are not many groups like Kero Kero Bonito. Their happy-go-lucky attitude and musical samples appeals to their own generation, the one that grew up on video games and 90s TV shows. There were young kids on parents’ shoulders in the crowd, as were parents who were texting in the back of the room, likely asking their spouse if this is what the kids are all listening to these days. Regardless, when a majority of the crowd knows many of the words to a band that is only playing their first show in DC and left with huge smiles on their faces, that’s when you know that they have found their audience. Their sophomore album Bonito Generation was released on October 21.