The Hague, Netherlands - December 2000
How awful is it to attend a much anticipated gig only to emerge disappointed, your roster of heroes losing yet another member. On the other hand, how brilliant is it when the opposite happens: you stumble along to some small gig, just to kill time, and unexpectedly you find yourself transformed by an enlightening musical experience.
Such was the case recently in Holland with the 'Popstad' (a 'Den Haag Radio West' sponsored Monday night showcase) in the Hague's 'Cafe Zwarte Ruiter'. The bill was not exactly enticing - there was aging (and genuinely lamentable) Dutch rock (the Crazy Rockers anyone?). Headlining was some teenage Hungarian geezer called Yonderboi. Oh well, not much else to do on a winter's Monday night in Holland, with everyone else in town either at, or suffering from, office parties.
Yonderboi - Laszlo Fogarasi Jr to his mum - claims to be influenced by the jazzier side of hip hop, such as De La Soul, Gangstarr and especially MC Solaar, as well as his dad's disco and jazz record collection and East European cartoon soundtracks. When his band finally manage to get their gear through the narrow bar and start playing, this becomes apparent. 'Ohne Chanteuse' sounds like the Glen Miller orchestra with a new, scratching DJ member - an effortless but thumping good time party anthem - c'est incroyable indeed. Herbie Hancocks's 'Cantaloupe Island' - also familiar from Us3's 'Hand on the Torch' - is transformed to an Eastern European accordion. 'Riders on the Storm' is faithful to The Door's original, with Ray Manzarek's alter ego, funny thick-rimmed specs wearing Balazs Zsager, proving himself to be something of a keyboard wizard.
I can't help thinking that it shouldn't work - energetic piano and nonsense female vocals meandering over a funky bass track, mixed up with a heavy dose of scratching. Sounds way too simplistic. But work it does. Yonderboi himself plays clicks and beeps and seems genuinely surprised but delighted at the audience's enthusiastic reaction.
On the debut LP 'Shallow And Profound', the songs are not so immediate. Recorded in Budapest, it is much more laid back, a bit lounge - initially I am reminded of the horrendous Goldfrapp. However the mixture of jazzy licks and funky scratching is at all times underpinned by a good fat, bassy backing and guided by a sophisticated musical brain. With subsequent listens I am reminded of a more energetic St Germain, a more cheerful Portishead or another artist hailing from the outer limits of the pop geographical bell-curve, Finn Jimi Tenor. No wonder that Yonderboi is already a favourite of (BBC) Radio 1's Gilles Peterson and his tunes have been included on compilations by Amsterdam's influential Supperclub and the Future Lounge series.
When he brings his battered transit van, his band and his wide grin to a town near you, be sure to be there. At still only 19, Yonderboi is at the start of something big.