Saturday, July 12, 2008

King Khan and the Shrines! The Echo. July 10, 2008.

There's a bit to say about the man named Khan, and in sum, what ought to be said is that he'd make a terrible dictator, not that he hasn't got presence – because he certainly has – but that he'd have his population under a spell, causing its own chaos while he watched and laughed a wicked laugh, his people following his every instruction, however absurd.

A preview of the madness that could be was born at the Echo Thursday night, where King Khan and the Shrines literally had a few bowing down, even within the restricted space that resulted from a packed house. This is what happens when you carry a staff and prance around in a cape.

Anyway, if you missed it, their first L.A. tour stop, you missed a bit of action. Everyone's, like, dancing and shit, and then midway through the set, Khan gets his gold cape on, his cobra-headed staff in hand, starts doing his wicked “hoo-hoo-hoo-ha-ha-ha” laugh with only the most serious look in his eye, visions of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Lord Sutch in mind. And as he's singing, he walks up to his organ player, who could be Chris Kattan but is Freddy Rococo, and when he strokes Mr. Rococo with his cobra (in the g-rated sense, thanks), all he gets in return is a mouthed “I love you.” Or maybe it was “olive juice.” At that moment, if you'd turned toward the brass trio on stage, you'd have noticed sax player Ben Ra looking like he was going to vomit any minute. He didn't.

Bamboorella, go-going with pom-poms, wasn't enough to keep up the spirit of the stage, so Diego Monasteri, drummer of opening act (and damn fine garage trio) Jacuzzi Boys, joined up in a glittery gold number, doubling the cheer power. He danced for a bit, showed off his nipples and left. Then Khan made miserable bastards of us by preceding “Welfare Bread” with the story of how he'd written it for his wife because they'd been on welfare for four years. So a few pretended that they too were on welfare, perhaps in sympathy, and we all doo-wopped along for a couple of minutes, and then the Shrines went back to tearing up some horns and whatnot.

The rest of the show was jolly, each song a new climax that could have served as set conclusion. The Shrines did a splendid run of “Rebel Rebel,” and there was some gospel story time in which we learned that a proper Indian takes off his shoes when he climbs inside a woman (yeah, yeah, yeah). Best of all, the night ended on the most drawn-out, indulgent conclusion possible: a good five minutes of brass noise, crowd surfing by bassist and Chuck Klosterman look-alike Riddiman (who also got his hair and face extensively petted by an overzealous lady up front), and some dude getting on stage and plucking a guitar left behind only to be cut off by another random dude shutting off his switch.

You know where things got a little weird? At one point, Khan starts telling us about his love for the Spits, a northwest punk band whose name warrants a good long chant. Just when we expect the Shrines to start up a Spits cover, though, they play a grand and true cover of the Saints' “Know Your Product.” And once it ends, Khan starts us back up on cheering for the Spits. Either Khan doesn't know one from the other, or he's performing one of the smartest tests in music criticism imaginable. It is a cruel trick, really, to test whether music reviewers know their stuff or bother to research, by feeding them a mismatched band and song, hoping to see a widely read review with the errors they've been handed in clear print. That said, I hope King Khan doesn't read the LA Weekly.

The crux of the story is this: If “cards” don't exist, and King Khan isn't destined for dictatorship, then he can at least settle for being the leader of what may be the best live band in the world.

Erm...the other point of the story is that Los Angeles only dances for bands who aren't American.

...and two points to the badass drummer of the Jacuzzi Boys:

Purchase a limited edition Jacuzzi Boys/King Khan split 7" when the label's store picks back up next week.

Also check out the videos posted from Shrines shows in Phoenix and San Francisco (latter includes a very bizarre/awesome intro with Jello Biafra and the Shrines covering Suicide).

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