Halloween, and kind of Christmas even, came early for King Khan fans, as the jack of all trash-rock trades came back to town with his Shrines for the first time in about a year and a half. Being the eve of All Hallow’s Eve, most no doubt assumed Khan would come out in some insane get-up, as is his usual want. Instead, after the band’s rave-up intro tune, Khan traipsed out in a well-fitted sharkskin suit, not unlike the classic early-60s soul revue combos that Khan and his cohorts so eminently replicate. Anyway, the band was draped in long silver lamé capes, and the whole nine-piece lot of them went wild with their super soul party revue for the next hour and a half.
All the hits were heaved, with Land of the Freak and Bite My Tongue being particular high points. But really, the R&B balling never really let up. The band jumped and jived even more than Khan, with the bass player going down into the crowd at times, and the horn players and keyboardist often landing in a heap together by the end of some tunes. Near as I could tell, nary a tune was played from their fine latest LP, Idle No More (Merge). But, being as how for so long Khan seemed to be playing in and around NYC with either the Shrines, King Khan & BBQ Show, or just popping up at parties, this was a kind of home-away-from-homecoming party, so the greatest hits set list was to be expected. As if anyone minded. The crowd was dancing the whole time.
And for the encore, Khan finally satisfied the courture-minded in the crowd by prancing out in nothing but some tiny tight black shorts (over black stockings), a gold cape, and a huge wig, dancing a bit more through the encore than even before. A couple unlucky drunks got yanked off the stage by the bouncers, the band ended up tossing most of the instruments around the stage, and all was right on this dress-up night.
Things were already cooking before the Shrines arrived, as Montreal’s Hellshovel got spooky with their echoey,crescendo-laden psych-rock pounding. Twas the sound of LSD-derived ghost-drunks rising out of the desert as the sun goes down. Leader Jeff Clarke was singing from one mic to the next, while his bassist and guitarist harmonized in often, a nice gang-chant trick you don’t see enough these days. And aside from it bridging their songs back to a hazy vision of a teen garage band somewhere in the collective unconscious, it also made for some eerie echoes throughout the half-filled hall, as costumed crowd members slowly sauntered in. Then famed DJ Jonathan Toubin spun an amazing shimmying mash of Halloween-themed dance tunes from his bottomless 7″ collection that shifted perfectly into the Shrines set.
Photos by Alix Piorun.