It was a family affair this past Saturday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. International rock’n’soul revue King Khan And The Shrines headlined an excellent triple bill that mined the deep reservoirs of Montreal’s fertile underground scene. As Arish “King” Khan leads his Shrines to the promised land, he’s also bringing old friends and co-conspirators along with him. Tourmates Red Mass and Vomit Squad feature former members of the Spaceshits, Les Sexareenos and CPC Gangbangs—Montreal legends all.
Vomit Squad opened the show by ripping through a set of snotty punk as singer Richard Ritalin hopped around and contorted himself into poses that conveyed his paranoid rants as effectively as his adenoidal, Doc Dart-like vocals.
Red Mass followed with a genre-defying mix that seamlessly blended garage rock, mutant disco, heavy riffing, bursts of free improv noise and impressive soloing by leader Roy Vucino. The head-spinning set ended with Vucino smashing his guitar in ecstasy or rage, both key elements of Red Mass’s raison d’être. The crowd responded with approval, hootin’ and hollerin’ for more.
Enter Mr. Khan and his ragged band of troubadours: a nine-piece group that functions like a punk bar version of Sun Ra’s Arkestra. Khan is a consummate showman, unafraid to get down ‘n’ dirty, like some sort of demented cross between GG Allin and a tent revival preacher. He led the band through old favorites and selections from their most recent album, Idle No More, on Merge Records. Cuts like Born To Die and Bite My Tongue got everyone moving, but it’s Khan’s special brand of stage banter that really loosens the crowd up. A lady in the upper levels was even moved to discard her pants and let it all hang out. The Shrines have that kind of effect people, and far be it for anyone to tell other folks how to have a good time. It was Saturday night, the band was rockin’ and everyone was having fun.
Words by Erick Bradshaw. Photos by Jackie Roman.