k-os Phillips Backyard Weekender, Victoria BC, July 27

k-os Phillips Backyard Weekender, Victoria BC, July 27
Photo: Lindsey Blane
Back in 2002, seeing the video for "Heaven Only Knows" from k-os's debut album, Exit, was a revelation. His first two albums ended up being pretty huge, so finally getting to see him live after so long was something of a bucket list deal.
Kicking off with a beat made of Rush's CanRock classic "Tom Sawyer," Kevin "k-os" Brereton hit the ground running. Actually, there was a slight breakdown after that, as his DJ had some sound problems, but he covered the gap with a quick freestyle, while his backup dancer busted out a "We the North" flag to match his T-shirt.
His dancer went mental for "Superstar Part Zero," the video for which he would have fit right into, what with all of his sick floor work, hat tricks, popping and whatnot. His DJ threw down more scratching in their rendition of the Phantom Planet-sampling "On the Run" than Z-Trip did in his whole set the night before.
For how hot k-os was on the mic, it was surprising that he didn't melt, wearing an oversized jacket and hoodie, among other layers, in the blazing afternoon sun. He later copped to the effort to keep his image intact, saying "I'm old and I'm sweatin,'" but he kept himself covered to the bitter end.
Brereton seemed to have a lot of fun with his beats. Amidst a false start to the reggae-tinged "Crucial" from his 2004 album Joyful Rebellion, he drew in references to "Roxanne" (The Police) and "She Loves You" (The Beatles). He later tossed "Another Brick in the Wall" (Pink Floyd) into looped intro of "Man I Used to Be," and mashed up "EMCEE Murdah" to the beat of "Forgot About Dre."
Arguably the most special moment came early on, though. Doing something he said he doesn't normally do, he performed "Heaven Only Knows" over an acoustic guitar rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" (Led Zeppelin), working Phillips Brewing into the track's freestyle section, and changing the last line from "I'll just move the crowd" to "I'll just puff a cloud." No fooling, he nearly brought me to tears with that.
Probably the biggest crowd moment came with his hit "Sunday Morning" from 2006's Atlantis: Hymns for Disco. He said he would only do it if the crowd sang it with him, and that, otherwise, it feels too much like karaoke. It was a sly way to tease out more involvement, and the DJ cut the sound to make sure audience was still singing the refrain, allowing them to bring home the finale. Well played all around.