Staying Alive & Well with Iska Dhaaf

Two shows in one night is by far my favorite way to spend a Friday night. Last Friday, I was able to do just that with Iska Dhaaf, first from the very comfort of our own KXSU studio. We felt very lucky to have such talented artists in our home, and we thank everyone who came! They shared an acoustic, unplugged version of their normal sound in a special and intimate atmosphere. The two revealed an easiness in their harmonies that clearly was a result of their close bond. After their show, I worked up the guts to shake Benjamin’s hand and thank him for responding to my email interview, to which he was very kind and gracious.


Photo by Rachael Dowd

Fast forward a few hours, and I was at the Vera Project just across town, ready for round two. A last minute change in scheduling unfortunately prevented Tiburones, the expected first opener, from performing, with Maiah Manser coming in as a last-minute replacement. I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised, as she immediately began to play some extraordinary ballads with only her impressively powerful voice and her keyboard. The next opener, Special Explosion, was composed of six people, and regrettably spent a good amount of their time in sound check. Their performance was less than stellar, though the drummer delivered consistently steady and interesting beats despite the underwhelming guitarists and vocalists.

I’ll admit, before the last act arrived, I was a bit tired. I had a rough week. I had a McFlurry beforehand that was weighing me down, and so far, the music hadn’t really brought me back up. Then, those two familiar faces of Iska Dhaaf ambled on stage, accompanied by two of their touring bandmates (Nikko and Jase of Vacationeer) on guitar and drums. Nathan grabbed the microphone and got the crowd hyped right away, in a genuine and passionate enthusiasm that he maintained throughout the whole show. I felt myself lifted up.


Photo by S.Barkalakis

It was immediately apparent that this show was going to be unlike the calm, little KXSU show. Benjamin started the beat and Nathan started running with it, gripping the mic confidently and staring directly into the eyes of the crowd. They ran through most of the set of their newest album, The Wanting Creature, with ease and tenacity. They danced throughout the whole set, making it difficult for their viewers not to follow suit. My favorite was their single, “Invisible Cities,” as it was particularly lively, and, you know, I swear Nathan made direct eye contact with me for a good ten seconds (…okay, yes, I was in the very front row, where else was he supposed to look?).


Photo by S.Barkalakis

About halfway through, Nathan stopped to thank the crowd for coming, and to add that, performing helps him “feel alive.” While that may sound cheesy and possibly pretentious, with the amount of passion and energy he had exhibited that night, I could easily see just how alive he felt, and it made for an excellent show that was almost alive in and of itself.



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