King Khan and the Shrines
Saturday, March 7, 2009
The Vagabond, Miami
Better Than: Listenin' to Nuggets while munchin' on peyote.
Until I read Chris Toenes' preview piece in this very paper, I had no idea that King Khan was a de facto protégé of Raunch Hands' Mike Mariconda. I definitely didn't know the axe man had produced a few of the Shrines' sides. But when you think it over, it does kinda make perfect sense. I mean, New York City's Raunch Hands were one of the first bands to bring back that peculiar brand of hard soul-soaked, psychobilly abandon that King Khan and his Shrines are so intent on keeping alive. And both bands bash it about brilliantly.
I'd also add that Khan himself seems to owe a little bit to Raunch Hands frontman Mike Chandler, one of the maddest cats to ever work a mic. And while I'm adding, I may as well throw in shout-outs to Screaming Jay Hawkins, James Brown, Little Richard, Sun Ra, Eric Burdon, Curtis Mayfield and Mick Jagger circa "Little Red Rooster," as well as every psychedelic garage band that made it on to the legendary Nuggets compilation, be they The 13th Floor Elevators or The Electric Prunes.
But King Khan and the Shrines are more than just a litany of influences. They're a bonafide rock 'n' roll band, baby! Even if they do happen to err on the revival side of the street.
And last night's Vagabond blowout was one helluva revival alright; in fact, the only thing missing was the tent. The flocks had come to bear witness, and the high priest of low blows blessed each and every one of them with a show as ripping as it was holy.
To even try to name the songs in King Khan and the Shrines' set, let alone put 'em some kinda order, would mean I completely missed the point. After all, you don't whip out your notebook while you're spinning in place, unless, that is, you wanna get even dizzier. And you sure don't wanna try recollecting titles when you're in the midst of something you'll never forget.
I will say this: King Khan and the Shrines hit Vagabond with a fury very few acts could even imagine, not to mention ever muster. And I for one of many in the crowded house was damn glad that they did.
Personal Bias: At the risk of dating myself, I saw The Raunch Hands back when they first started tearing up things, so I've got a particular penchant for any act that smacks of the same kinda crazy.
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Random Detail: King Khan's cape would not be outta place in a Bollywood horror rock extravaganza.
By the Way: In an effort to make King Khan's music more accessible in North America, Vice Records recently released the compilation The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines. And in April the same label re-releases 2007's What Is?!.
There are also a couple free MP3s to be had at the Hazelwoods Records site.