fb-pixel Skip to main content
Music Review

Kaki King brings sound and vision to Brighton Music Hall

Kaki King performing Tuesday at Brighton Music Hall. JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE/Globe Freelance

The guitar was in the center of the stage, held up by a stand on either end. It was entirely white, as if made of whipped cream, a custom-made Ovation with a smooth exterior of carbon fiber in the front and plastic resin in the back.

It looked like a museum piece, and by the end of Kaki King’s concert at Brighton Music Hall on Tuesday, it sounded like one too.

That’s the only way to do justice to King’s evocative performance: to say it could have worked just as easily in a fine-arts space as it did in a rock club. The show was a sumptuous feast for the senses, a dizzying display of sound and vision by a guitarist already renowned for her innovation.


Undulating waves of ambient textures washed over the darkened stage as King took a seat at the guitar, which appeared to be suspended in mid-air. The show was a celebration of King’s new album, “The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body,” which had been released that day.

The album is the soundtrack to a collaboration between King and Glowing Pictures, a visual performance company. Cued by Beth Wexler, video projections loomed on a screen behind King, with images that mutated from blobs of neon color to crisp cityscapes.

Then something miraculous happened: The guitar, too, started to come to life through projection mapping (“like a digital stencil,” as Wexler told me afterward). Little flecks of light gradually morphed into kaleidoscopic patterns, like Technicolor on acid. They were triggered by King’s playing, but also by a projector concealed at the lip of the stage. On one song alone, the guitar was a window into a wondrous place: a placid pool of water, a carousel, a swarm of bees, a starry sky, a burst of flames.


The songs, all of them instrumental, were just as luminous, full of electronic washes that approached New Age serenity but also breakneck fretwork. “Battle Is a Learning” rumbled with heavy-metal riffs buried in layers of thunderous fuzz. It burned out in a squall of feedback, making way for the pastoral softness of “We Did Not Make the Instrument, the Instrument Made Us.”

In all white, down to her shock of blond hair and the sunglasses she wore, King matched her instrument while keeping the focus on the ways she could upend our expectations of it. When the house lights came on, King talked a little bit about the show, not unlike how you’d expect an artist to elaborate on her newest paintings.

She had transfixed the audience, who left the club remarking on what an immersive experience it had been and wanting to learn — and see and hear — more.

James Reed can be reached at james
. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJamesReed.