Some bands have a pretty distinct aesthetic when it comes to their music, how it sounds and how it’s presented. Khruangbin have taken that vision and run with it, all the way to the tailor and back. Laying down the most laid-back grooves one can think of, they coolly play a brand of music that might have a toe print in psych, surf, world music and funk without definitively staking out a clear position in any of them. The sold-out room couldn’t have cared less about how to label the band, and basked in the ultra clean guitar lines of Mark Speer, subtly anchored by the most economical rhythm section of Laura Lee and Donald Johnson; this is music honed down to such a fine sheen that it would be the ultimate friction-less surface. In a world where endless garage psych rock was replaced with slightly Asian flavored funk, we’ve got Speer as the doppelganger for Top Dollar.
A mega-medley of classic hip-hop proved a nice contrast to their admittedly comfortable original material, and they kept that cover spirit alive with the timeless “Christmas Time Is Here” that we all know and love from our days of watching Peanuts around the holidays. Speaking of covers, the opener was Will Van Horn, who would later join Khruangbin on stage during the encore and has also improbably been on a Jandek record! Van Horn brought a pretty varied array to the table tonight in terms of song interpration. The Trio, with Van Horn on pedal steel guitar, Tank on drums and mustache guy on bass, opened with one of the best songs of the 20th century, the haunting “Yekermo Sew” from Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke. (If you don’t click on that hyperlink and dig this song, I have failed at my job.) The Dick Dale classic “Miserlou” was a bit more familiar, and he went with the cover coup de grace closer “Toxic.” You’ll never hear pedal steel guitar the same way.
Photos of the show:
Created with flickr slideshow.