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KAI Hits a High Note

If you've had your fill of the Boys of Backstreet, KAI could be singing your tune.

KAI, a San Francisco-based vocal quintet, is an Asian-American boy band with a flare for soul and more than a touch of inspiration. The group performs this Friday in Page Auditorium in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

With syrupy sweet harmonies and lovelorn power ballads, KAI is not for the alt-rock set. Yet, the group's a capella roots and considerable talents are a welcome reminder that pop melodies needn't be shallow or ingenuine.

KAI's biggest hit, "Say You'll Stay," garnered attention out West in 1997, when the Backstreet Boys and NSync were first heating up the charts. While Andrey, Errol, Andrew, AC and Leo have yet to join the ranks of Justin Timberlake, the talented twentysomethings enjoy a growing fan base.

The group's name stems from the Filipino Tagalog word "kaibigan," which roughly translates to "harmony among people." A cross between Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees, KAI live up to their name, delivering R&B sentiment with power and poise.

However, KAI's set is heavy on down-tempo tunes, covers and wannabe tearjerkers. While their interpretation of the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love" improves upon its predecessor, a diversified repertoire may be in order.

As paint-by-numbers acts litter the landscape of pop, KAI is a refreshing if predictable throwback to voice-driven performance. With neither a vocoder nor a snare drum, KAI arrives at Duke high on harmony and heavy on talent.

-By Tim Perzyk


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