Connan Mockasin wants you to drink the Kool-Aid


Photos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Kevin Quandt //

Connan Mockasin with Kirin J Callinan, Liam Finn //
The Independent — San Francisco
May 15th, 2014 //

Many local music fans heard mumblings of a show that happened at the Bottom of the Hill last January by some guy from New Zealand who basically had an overpacked room eating out of the palm of his hand. Come to find out that this mysterious, international impresario goes by the name Connan Mockasin, announcing not too long after his San Francisco debut, that he’d be back to conquer larger spaces. Well, that has come and gone and a query still lingers from last Thursday at the Independent: What did I just experience?


Once spirited rocker Liam Finn had wrapped up, opener Kirin J. Callinan was about to ready to flick the dial from odd to weird as he pummeled the unassuming midweek crowd with a smorgasbord of various psyched-out sounds that held the tight rope of brilliant or awful in a most suspenseful manner. As Kirin and his merry band of misfits blazed through material that felt better suited as a Nine Inch Nails support act some 20 years ago than as an opener for a Warholian doppelgänger known for saccharine-tinged art-pop. Nevertheless, Kirin was wildly unchained and mildly entertaining as he poured on effect after effect, eventually crafting some form of primal eclecticism that got away with being music…If only for tonight.

Well, no cups of mysterious red liquid were passed to the healthy-sized crowd as the cast of characters, I mean players, were introduced to the crowd before the shamanistic Connan finally made his entrance. As the first strums of chorus-heavy guitar filled the air, not to mention some thick plumes, a warmness fell over the room and most people’s worries seemed to leave them as the swirling nature of Mockasin’s psychedelic tone became spotlight for the next hour and change. His custom Straocaster, re-shaped into a teardrop, was star as the New Zealand-born artist cruised through extended versions of some of his most popular songs such as an early set rendition of “It’s Choade My Dear”. The smoothness of the sound created an atmosphere that could be described at both lulled and chill, though the audience was attentive while they slightly levitated off the concrete floor.


One aspect of Connan’s live show that was pleasant was his lack of vocal effects which are heavily represented on both previous releases, Dolphin Love Forever and Caramel. The latter being aptly named as the onomatopoeic nature of the word ‘caramel’ also describes the confectionary gooeyness of certain songs that are certain to get stuck to the roof of your brain. This lack of vocal effects gave the sound a slightly different direction as the music and performance became the focus, eventually pulling up crowd members for some awkward fun.

“I’m the Man, That Will Find You” had the vibe of Pink Floyd-inspired porno funk and was easily one of the highlights of the night as the band weaved in and out of the song as a small cast of characters upped the weirdness on stage, if just a few more degrees. “Do I Make You Feel Shy?” also stood out as one of the more impressive cuts as Connan crooned, “I’ll be the boy of your dream, My ever lusty world…”, this all laid over the sublime tone that Connan has mastered rather impressively.


With all this said, it’s about time that the US markets pay a little more attention to this dream-psych export that has made waves in a handful of international markets, and for good reason. Sure, the likes of Ariel Pink and Animal Collective are hailed as gods in the genre, but Connan has something a little more unique to offer us. Hell, if Radiohead give him an opening slot on a tour, you know they are doing something right. We just warn you to be wary of mysterious drinks offered by people who look like they could be extras in The Matrix.

WIN TICKETS: Connan Mockasin at the Independent 5/15 (THUR)

Connan-Mockasin_Jen-Carey_postPhoto by Jen Carey

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Connan Mockasin with Kirin J Callinan, Liam Finn //
The Independent — San Francisco
May 15th, 2014 (Thursday) //

Want to know how you are doing something right as a musician? When Radiohead books you as their opening act on a tour. Well, Connan Mockasin has shown that he is talented enough to earn that honor as his dynamic style of psych-tinged pop music has gotten the attention of more than Thom Yorke and associates. A busy summer of international festivals lie ahead for the group, but a quick jaunt to the West Coast preface a massive summer schedule.

Connan Hosford cut his teeth in New Zealand playing blues-pop rock with other local musicians under the name Connan and the Mockasins, before a relocation to the UK where personnel change led to various gigs alongside Neil Finn, Crowded House and Warpaint, to name a few. However, it wasn’t until Erol Alkan’s label, Phantasy Sound, released Dolphin Love Forever that the psychedelic-pop sound that has become their characteristic was born. Praises of originality came rolling in, later Mockasin was tapped by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Radiohead. 2013’s conceptual follow-up, Caramel, demonstrated the acts’ penchant for slow, brooding mind-warps that swirl in an almost confectionery manner.

The Independent will host these international taste-makers on Thursday evening alongside Kirin J Callahan, as well as Neil Finn’s (Crowded House) son, Liam Finn. -Kevin Quandt

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