SXSW Tip Sheet 2008, NYC Edition: Kaki King


SXSW shows are rarely transcendental affairs. Burnout is inevitable—by Saturday night, you have no idea where you are, what’s in your drink, and who’s onstage, nor do you particularly care. So it’s a great compliment to whirlwind guitar virtuoso Kaki King that her gig last year in a small courtyard left the crowd spellbound and deeply attentive, to the point where anyone speaking above a whisper was immediately and angrily shushed. Her sound demands such intimacy and attention, mixing gauzy, complex folk balladry with stupefying fretwork wizardry—a New Age guitar-goddess act of fingerpicked, slapped, and pedal-altered pyrotechnics that somehow fuses Sarah McLachlan and Yngwie Malmsteen. Kaki’s new record, Dreaming of Revenge, is excellent, but this is an in-person phenomenon: It must be seen to be believed, preferably in complete, reverent silence. The fooking fury has never been so delicately unleashed.