This past weekend, Canadian DJ and Scratch Turntablist Kid Koala was in Ottawa to present his Space Cadet Headphone Experience Concert at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. The Montreal-based multi-talented artist had not one but 5 basically sold-out shows in the Museum’s new multi-functional Theatre, a space just like the one built for the War Museum.
Having seen Kid Koala perform in Ottawa before, I knew he wouldn’t disappoint and was sure to bring tons of creativity on the turntables as he’s known for. The show, like no other I’ve attended, is an audio-visual and interactive experience inspired by the birth of his daughter, which presents the soundtrack composed for the Space Cadet picture book with the help of visuals, crowd participation intertwined with humor. Part author commentary and part concert, the show offers the public a humble yet highly entertaining and unique account of Kid Koala’s Space Cadet picture-book and musical composition project.
The experience, presented in two portions, started with an interactive visit of an exhibition which brings together an interesting assortment of old DJ equipment like vintage plastic turntables and other musical artifacts from Kid Koala’s personal collection meant to present certain aspects of the Space Cadet story. For example, a collection of vinyl album covers all representing some type of space-related music and cosmic sounds were fixed to a wall along the Theatre near a keyboard and mic that aloud you to “speak like a robot”.
Eventually, the Theatre doors opened and all 250 of us grabbed a pair of earphones and headed in for the second segment of the event. We were able to find a spot on the floor in the “inflatable space pod seat” environment created specifically for the show and awaited as Kid Koala welcomed us into his world and introduced his friend and musician for the opening act. Out came a certain Michael Feuerstack aka Snailhouse, a soft folk singer-songwriter and acoustic guitar player from Ottawa who performed a couple of songs from his repertoire for a curious but receptive crowd. Although he sang very nicely and had beautiful texts, his set didn’t seem to ‘fit’ with the whole DJ/Turtablist/Audio-Visual/Multi-Sensorial Earphone Experience as I was expecting a funky DJ and/or act to kick things off. So personally Snailhouse was a very good act but sort of out of place.
Kid Koala soon followed and charmed the crowd with his unique show without pretense that often called on the public’s participation to contribute to the music while his scratching and sound selection enhanced the overall performance. He graciously offered some old classics of his like Drunk Trumpet and Skanky Panky from his earlier days and even introduced some unreleased material coming out later this year like the fun Mosquito Blues track. The artist was also language sensitive and even spoke French here and there for the bilingual crowd who truly appreciated the thoughtful gesture. As a whole, the experience was extremely entertaining and it felt refreshing in comparison to all the regular shows that repeat themselves in style and format. Thank you Kid Koala for being so creative and innovative and props to the Canada Aviation & Space Museum for being open to hosting such a fun and different event!