Live Review: King Khan and the Shrines
For the second time in the last 18 months, I was standing at the Triple Rock Social Club, dog tired and wishing I was in bed. Both times I was waiting for the wild eyed, manic garage soul of King Khan and the Shrines. Like the previous show (last year on Art a Whirl Weekend), I quickly regained my energy once the eight piece band hit the stage, proving again that they are one of the most entertaining live bands around right now.
While they didn’t play much new material (only one or two songs by my count), the group are similar to the Flaming Lips in that the songs are great, but the live show is as much about the spectacle as it is the content. Three horn players running around stage, guitar and bassists posing and jumping every chance they get, a dancer, and a keyboard player that in any other band would be the focal point of attention. But realistically, when you have King Khan fronting your group, it’s hard to get any eyes at all on you. Playing a lot of material from What Is?, the band tore through a blistering 70 minute set that had the packed Triple Rock dancing throughout. Even on slower songs like “Welfare Bread,” the crowd could barely contain themselves to dance along with the funky, soulful group. Basically the whole set was highlights, but especially rapturous moments included a thunderous take on “I Wanna Be A Girl,” “Land of the Freaks” and “(How Can I Keep You) Outta Harm’s Way.” As loquacious as I try to be to and however great Jon’s photos and my videos are, I don’t think the King Khan experience can be fully understood without seeing it live. Sweaty, dancing bodies; band members running through the crowd; a shirtless King Khan with a cape during the encore; and broken glass and spilled beer everywhere. Not for the faint of heart, but one of the most exhilarating and fun experiences that you will find at a musical venue.
I had misunderstood the lineup and thought that by arriving at 9:30 I would catch one of my favorite live local acts, Private Dancer, but I was mistaken. I got to the venue just in time to see Gentleman Jesse and his Men, whom I didn’t even know were on the bill. Not only was I disappointed with missing Private Dancer, Gentleman Jesse and His Men were a letdown. Sounding like a less expressive Exploding Hearts or a less witty Modern Lovers, the group was just fine, but for someone who is tired and just wanting to see King Khan it came across with less of a bang than a whimper.