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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last Night: King Khan & the Shrines at Amoeba

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 7:12 PM


King Khan & the Shines
Thursday, May 28, 2009

Better than: Drinking at Murio's

Who needs happy hour when you've got the Sultan of Soul to liven up the end of your work day? King Khan & The Shrines' Thursday early evening in-store at Amoeba was a bigger shot of adrenaline than a double Jager, and it left the underage kids in the aisles just as wobbly and grinning as a boozy afternoon.

The generations of rock fans started gathering between the aisles early, with lots of college students passing time flipping through stacks of vinyl and discussing the giant concert posters on the wall as they waited for the Berlin-based collective to take the Amoeba stage.

When Khan was ready to go--a half hour behind schedule but none the worse for the wear, energy-wise--he was impossible to miss. The tall Indian singer was resplendent in mint-green polyester pants and an electric blue matched set of fuzzy marching band hat and silky vest. The hat, he explained, was homage to Bart Simpson--although later he tipped the accessory Marge's way. Under the vest Khan wore nothing but the belly he was born with (and, from the looks of its curvature, then proceeded to fill with beer). If you could hear nothing from the stage, the visual imagery was clear--this is a wild band that keeps it loose and wants to shine both in sound and in fabric materials.


But of course, we were there to use our ears as well, and the band filled the record store with its signature hyper rhythm, blues, & garage tunes. The Shrines performed these songs like they were already at the Great American, getting sweaty by the time "Welfare Bread" really kicked in (the French keyboard player was particularly animated, although the horn section, two percussionists, guitarist, bassist, and pom-pom'd cheerleader were also getting their muscles moving there). They worked hard through a truncated set list of "bad ass R&B" that included "Outta Harm's Way" and a special appearance by tonight's Great American opening act Mark Sultan. Sultan sang a pretty kick ass soul number, while Khan played a guitar that his guest buddy joked cost him a whole quarter (and, from the way it went haywire before the song even started, you'd believe it).

The set ended with a dedication to "all the women, and to all the men who can do the tuck," which was Khan's way of introducing "I Wanna Be a Girl." That song was the signal sending the band out into the crowd, Chinese fire drill style.


The keyboardist, guitarists, the cheerleader, Khan, they all performed kamikaze between the aisles, giving this eager crowd the maximum amount of Khan craziness (a level of insanity that will no doubt be tested even further when in an adult setting at tonight's late show) while giving everyone with a camera or iPhone a great angle to shoot the band members.


In the end, King Khan & the Shrines split from the stage just like they arrived--a force that changes direction when you least expect it, and one that leaves everyone in its path talking animatedly about what great thing just happened in front of them.

By the way: For more King Khan & the Shrines, hit Great American Music Hall tonight.

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Ian S. Port


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