It is a hot midsummer Los Angeles night and the crowd gathered for Yoni & Geti are all overdressed in dark jeans, boots (or Nike kicks), and loose fitting black or earth colored t-shirts. Almost everyone, the men, the women, sport the same unisex uniform, save for a few women in floral dresses and rompers. The only lights in the complex are coming from the bar where two female bartenders serve $5 Tecates.
Yoni & Geti start their set at 11pm sharp singing ambient “ooohhhs” and “aaahhhs” cooling down the overheated crowd with azure blue lights and fog that looks like mist rising from a mountain tarn. But after a minute of this, rapper Serengeti (Geti) breaks into rap verses from their song “Lunchline” which is easy listening but possesses heavy lyrics like “I see my kids only sometimes”.
The following songs and performance follow no consistent sound or genre, they moderate between revived hip-hop, utter nonsense, jarring screams like the sound of an Adult Swim cartoon character placing their hand on hot stove top, to woolgathering vocals from Yoni Wolf that make one woman near the back say “this sounds like something from the ‘Juno’ soundtrack.” The eclectic mix of their genre defying music keeps the audience engaged as every audience is given their own metaphorical gift bag of music variety.
Beyond this, Yoni & Geti capture a devoted audience by constant interaction. At one pause in between songs they even ask the audience if “anyone has any burning questions” to which a woman with a light Australian accent jovially asks if they also play the flute. Instead of merely performing for an audience, Yoni & Geti perform with the audience like they’re with friends at an open mic. Geti casually sips a canned beer joining the audience when he is not rapping. When he messes up lines early in their set, he chuckles, makes fun of himself, and continues. The group does not care for perfection; they are not drinking lemon tea on tour to save their voices because their sound does not rely on beautiful vocals but instead wit, auditory layers, and interesting backbeats. Many of their songs include speak rap and speak sing like “Madeline”, their Pitchfork promoted hit that members of the audience whistled on their way out the door.
By far the strongest audience response comes for their encore when only Geti remains on stage and raps his 2007 Chicago inspired track “Dennehy,” proclaiming his love in a stream of consciousness format for the littlest things in life like Squirt, sausages, Ruffles, and softball. The moment is so authentic and gorgeously coupled by a sped up version of soul classic “How Long Will it Last” by Jerry Butler and Brenda Lee that the audience is dancing more than they have the entire set and chants the final line “Onions! Onions, Onions! Onions!” in unison with Geti until the beat fades like your favorite pair of summer denim.
What a Fool
Brook & Waxing (WHY? song)
Long Ears (Serengeti song)
What a Fool
Tracks (Serengeti song)
Rubber Traits (WHY? song)
Dennehy (Serengeti song)
Rhythm of Devotion (Sisyphus song)