South African rockers KONGOS take the stage at MTSU

Kongos. Photo by Samantha Hearn.

Originally from South Africa, the band of brothers known as KONGOS played a tribal-rock infused set for a crowd of students Monday night in the Student Union Ballroom.

The night started off with Coat Tales, a five-piece indie rock outfit based in Nashville. The band is relatively new to the music scene; however, their sound is far from adolescent. Collectively, the group’s stage presence served as the focal point for this opening act.

Next to the stage was Black Sea Royalty, a four-piece alternative rock band also hailing from Nashville. The band layered their tracks with powerful guitar riffs and spacey instrumentation to keep the crowd’s energy and attention.

The set included several radio friendly tracks, including “Great White” and “War Cry,” a single off their 2012 self-titled EP. The band closed the set with “North,” a tune that clearly displayed the band’s musical talents with multiple guitar and drum solos.

After much anticipation, it was finally time for KONGOS to hit the stage.

The band opened the set with a string of songs off their 2012 debut album Lunatic, including “Hey I Don’t Know,” a track that immediately grabbed the crowd’s attention with its up-beat tempo and catchy lyrics.

“What’s up Murfreesboro, Tennessee?” asked bassist and lead vocalist Dylan Kongos before jumping into “Kids These Days,” a drum-heavy track that featured a resounding accordion solo by band member Johnny Kongos.

The brothers continued to rock out with their new single “I’m Not Joking,” which served as a set highlight. The crowd jumped in unison to the beat provided by drummer and vocalist Jesse Kongos.

Although most of the band’s music is rock infused, their South African roots shined through on a number of tracks, which is something Jesse claims sets them apart from other artists on the charts.

“I think there’s quite a wide variety out in the pop world right now,” Jesse said before the show. “We’re a rock band, and there’s not many rock bands on the pop charts right now. I think the African drums and the accordion set us apart. That may make us stand out a little bit.”

After performing a new song, the band invited guest singer Mo Gordon on stage to perform a mash-up of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre.

As the night came to a close, Dylan dedicated their track “It’s a Good Life” to “the things in life that get you down.”

“It took a lot of work to try to get a good record or go out and play a show,” said Dylan. “We’ve listened to more music, we’ve been influenced by different styles of music, we’ve done a lot more gigs, we’ve toured probably hundreds and hundreds of dates since [forming the band.]”

As expected, the band closed the night with their platinum single “Come With Me Now,” which peaked at number one on the Billboard charts earlier this year.

KONGOS will return to the Middle Tennessee area next Monday for a show at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works.

For more updates, follow us at, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

To contact Lifestyles editor John Connor Coulston, email

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1 Comment

  1. […] We also played classic tracks by Blondie and Lynyrd Skynyrd and “I Want to Know” by KONGOS, who played at MTSU last week. […]

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