The Key Studio Sessions: Cheers Elephant stampedes through a live set at XPN’s studio

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Photo by John Vettese

I’m used to seeing Cheers Elephant play standing. They swing their instruments to and fro, hunch to the floor then spring up, and slam around all hyper. Adding to that live kinetic energy, singer-guitarist Derek Krzywicki can high-kick like nobody’s business. (No fooling – the dude must do yoga or something.) So when the band rolled into XPN on a cold night last month for their Key Studio Session—wearing knit sweaters and wool winter caps, proceeding to get comfy on stools spaced around the room—I thought maybe we were in for a much mellower preview of tunes from their new album, Man Is Nature. Not so: Cheers Elephant may have been seated, but they blasted out the jams like they were on stage, nailing each harmony and every guitar solo. A lot of the energy can be attributed to drummer Roberto Kingston. When I caught the band live, he was the Bez of the band, shaking his tambourine and moving around to the side of the stage (on account of a hand injury). Now he’s on back the drum stool (where he’s been since the band’s inception), a whirlwind machine of Keith Moon proportions: flailing and seemingly unstructured, but actually crazy precise. Listen to him slam his toms on “Shark Attack” and shriek out a semi-intelligible interjection on “Capt. Crowninshield.” Actually, it’s a spectacle that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Fortunately, Cheers Elephant’s record-release show for Man Is Nature happens this Saturday, January 8, at World Café Live. Pretty sure they won’t be seated for that show; you’d better not be either.

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