FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) brought his brand of silky bass lines and piano-driven electronic tunes to the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC, on Friday evening. On tour for the artist’s debut release, French Kiwi Juice, the multi-instrumentalist dropped grooves and crowd pleasers, but fell short on the je ne sais quoi.
Having made the rounds on music blogs and the internet for many years, French Kiwi Juice (born Vincent Fenton) dropped his first full length release in 2017. The album is electronic with jazz and R&B inspiration throughout. The release is solid, if not a bit narrow in range; however, FKJ’s appeal stems from his ability to independently build tracks—live and layer-by-layer—using guitars, saxophones, vocals, and keys. Having seen him work his magic, and as a huge fan of his Eton Messy Presents: mixfrom a few years back, I went in with high hopes for the evening.
Unfortunately, the show felt somewhat lackluster. I won’t say anything significantly negative about it, as FKJ was suave, the music was on point, and the crowd seemed into it—but the story kind of ends there. FKJ’s performance was a hybrid of live and pre-recorded material at a ratio that was probably 50/50, but appeared 20/80. It may be asking a lot of a solo performer to build every detail of a song from scratch but that’s kind of his thing—no?
At times, the set reminded me of an attempt at multitasking. I may be cooking, listening to a podcast, AND scheduling an appointment, but is it truly more effective or am I just half-assing three jobs at once? It’s unfair of me to compare my expert ability to burn toast and ignore The Daily simultaneously vs. his ability to create art in front of hundreds of people…but I’ve got the mic right now and I plan to talk my b.s.
The highlights of the evening happened during the moments that FKJ coloured outside of the lines. Longer jams and interludes, and an improvised encore showcased his technical ability—these were the best representations of his essence. Walking out Lying Together into a 10-minute groove and wooing the audience with sax solos; there’s no denying his ability to draw in a crowd. It would be great to see FKJ’s career grow to afford a full touring ensemble to fill out the sound, while keeping that one-man-band feel a la Bonobo.