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“Festivals can be real freak shows,” says singer Matt Burke of electro-soul act Vokab Kompany, who just booked Irvine’s Lightning in a Bottle Festival over Memorial Day weekend. “Like, with literal freaks.” He cites as example their recent appearance at San Francisco’s Sea of Dreams fest, headlined by Mutaytor (featuring members of Oingo Boingo and the Mike Ness band).

“Mutaytor has a huge team of live performers, with burlesque dancers, aerial contortionists, fire jugglers, and a huge group of musicians, with three drum setups; imagine Pink at the Grammys, but on steroids.” Both bands shared the stage for a song recorded together last year, “Krowded Fire,” from Vokab’s 2009 album The New Kong.

“As we entered the stage, my glasses fogged up due to the heat, so I can barely see where we’re supposed to perform. This positioning is crucial, so we don’t get plowed over by the aerial performers, fire dancers, and hula hoopers. So I’m running around with fogged glasses, trying to sing, while circus performers and flamethrowers are whizzing by my face. I was practically beheaded by the rotating 30-pound hoops!”

Burke, a former high school English teacher also known for his stint with Grammy-nominated Native Root, reveals a hitherto unknown secret behind two celeb performers not credited on their upcoming album. “We met the bassist and guitarist for Cage the Elephant, Daniel Tichenor and Lincoln Parish, when we all played the Stay Classy event at Petco Park last year, and they came to our studio in National City.” The result was a new song and overdubs on a Vokab track featuring the rising alterna-rock stars.

“However,” according to Burke, “Sony had issues with them releasing anything before the new Cage the Elephant album drops, so we needed a pseudonym on our album. The alias we came up with for them is ‘Thumper Oakstreet.’ Bummer, a big corporation trying to ice our big-name guest stars.”

Vokab Kompany was nominated for Best Hip-Hop at the 2009 San Diego Music Awards, and they appeared on the SDMA-nominated compilation Best of Daygo City. They perform May 1 at Winstons and May 8 at Sound Wave.

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Vokab Kompany

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