South African Arena Rock! Kongos with The Joy Formidable at the Vic Theatre (October 5, 2016)

The Kongos are originally from South Africa. Thus, it makes sense that they play a version of arena rock blended with African rhythms. The song “I Don’t Mind” features guitar work very common in African Rock. Also, the accordion player plays a major role, especially on “I Want It Free”. He has the picture of the gorilla from the cover of their album, Egomaniac, printed on his instrument which grows and shrinks as he plays. Also, behind the band, they show images of animals in the wild projected on a line of screens. Elephants, lions, flamingos, and more appear. Along with a large assortment of lights flashing and shining in all directions, the show is chalk full of visual stimulation. It’s definitely arena ready and quite a spectacle in the medium size Vic Theatre.


To close out their set, the Kongos drummer bangs his drums twice and two swirling rings of smoke fly into the crowd. The effect is amazing.  Each time the singer says “What are you smoking?”, more rings of smoke shoot out into the audience. When you put your hand into the ring, you can feel the air moving. Afterwards, the crowd cheers and demands an encore. They tell us they have to make it quick to finish by 10pm according to Chicago rules for all-ages shows. They close out with a great cover of “Blue Monday” by New Order. Wednesdays don’t get any better than this!

Quinn Delaney

See the latest posted setlist here.

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