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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Last Night: King Khan & BBQ at the Independent

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 10:52 AM

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King Khan & BBQ
November 18, 2009
The Independent

Better Than: Kentucky jail

After driving 1600 miles and missing five shows, King Khan & BBQ rejoined its US tour Wednesday in San Francisco at The Independent.

The duo was famously accompanied by their mosh pit and rage-bones (connected to the drink-bone), and their publicized contralegal plight rang out among the intoxicated audience--some of whom may well know the struggle. But the funniest thing about KK & BBQ's return to the stage following the tour's drugged run in Nov. 12 with Kentucky law enforcement is how well their rockabilly tunes suited the country-Southern manners that apparently ensnared them.

I mean, one point of confusion may be how King Khan & BBQ is not the same as Arish "King" Khan's other outfit the Shrines, an antagonistic gospel-punk gang who specialize in installing dervish and riot among their crowds. Sure, perhaps a 6-foot-5 Indian running cockamamie music across state lines might be simply begging for trouble. But alongside Mark Sultan aka BBQ in the two-piece show featuring Sultan on drums, guitar, and at one point tambourine, Khan plays a loving doowop groove which seems rurally appropriate if not downright bluegrass. This isn't exactly the Black Lips in India  (no matter that Khan teams with the Black Lips for his other late collaboration, The Almighty Defenders).


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Wednesday, King Khan crooned his way through bluesy '50s ballads looking like an Indo-John Belushi, wearing a Prussian soldier hat and a 12-year-old girl's Peter Pan tunic. He had to knee one adoring blonde backward off the same stage she had just scaled to try to grind with him.

By way of an encore, BBQ assumed the microphone and announced, "We've just arrived from Kentucky, and there's one thing we're going to ask you to do, is put your hands up."

The crowd offered its seaweed impersonation as he and Khan swung into a number called "Why Don't You Lie?" It was a sad old tune requiring you to imagine a lover so ill treated he would rather be told a lie than demand his lover be true. But as BBQ persuaded the audience to sing along, I wondered about the challenge of these words, shifted onto ourselves: "Why don't you lie?"

And I wondered, given the circumstance, a highway patrolmen knocking on my car window late at night, in a foreign state, asking the words, "Have you had any drugs or alcohol this evening?" What would I ask myself?

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I've been arrested twice. In New York City, I was jailed under influence of wild mushrooms, but got dismissed without charge.

Random Detail: Afrolicious MC Malibu tried to sell copies of his CD to fans exiting the venue.
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Lars Russell

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