King Khan & the Shrines Live at Brighton

King Khan Live

The best way to describe a King Khan & the Shrines show is “never not weird,” and that’s the consensus after being to three shows inside of 2013 alone. They returned to Brighton Music Hall on Tuesday night in support of their new album, and brought the weird with a touch of classy this time– but don’t worry, there’s still plenty to sing-along garage anthems to go around. For years, the group has managed to keep their huge sound flying under the radar on account of being too weird, to raunchy, or too loud, but there’s no comparison to the live experience. Decked out in a fancier, less naked get-up than usual in a suit jacket and trimmed hair, the energy didn’t suffer through their standby hits and new tracks from this year’s Idle No More sprinkled in.

Though they just nearly tore down the Brighton Music Hall for the first time this year in a frenzy of Indian headdresses and lack of shirt just back in July, the September release of Idle No More and positive critical reception sent waves through the indie scene. The act still bubbles with psychadelia and the retro garage vibes that brought them to national attention back in 2008. Supreme Genius was as tough an album to follow as the name would imply, but Idle No More lends a maturity and flavor to the garage sound previously unexplored, and the set wove in and out of the old and new with the crass charm of Arish “King” Khan.

After King Khan’s departure from the group for alternate group The King Khan and BBQ Show, Idle No More marks the group’s first studio-length release since 2008’s divine The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines, an album that was heavily sampled from with their signature heavy horns section, keyboards, and the larger-than-life vocals of King Khan himself. “How Can I Keep You (Outta Harm’s Way),” “I Wanna Be a Girl,” and showstopper “Took My Lady to Dinner” were pulled directly from the Supreme collection, as well as their 2012 single “Bite My Tongue,” originally a standalone track that turned into the lead single for Idle No More. Also played were “Bad Boy,” “Born to Die” (pipe down, Lana fans), and “Of Madness I Dream,” demonstrating some more profound lyricism not usually found in their lighthearted fare, and the performance reflected it.

That’s not to say that they didn’t get the whole audience to sweat out their PBR several times over before the show’s close. “Tell me who you think is the man/The one who could make me stand”, Khan croons in “Bite My Tongue” alongside flagship lyrics “She’s fat, she ugly, she’s fat and she’s ugly/But I love her, I love her, yeah.” Hear the difference? So do they.

“We’re gonna try some grown-up sh** now,” Khan laughed when introducing the first new track of the night.

If nothing else, King Khan and the Shrines know how to party. The stage set-up switched several times throughout the show to accommodate the mass of instruments to create the garage symphony for numbers like “Destroyer,” a number for which I will forever swoon. The Shrines were on point for the duration– the drums beat like a tribal circle, the horns wailed, and the bass line kept everything moving, seeming to be the only direction giver in a show that was alternatively chaos, class, and a hell of a lot of sweat. They reign supreme, they’re anything but idle, and just a note to the guys: never make us wait five years for a new release again.

By Jamie Loftus
Photo by Trevor Gage

If you liked this, check out:
The Head and the Heart Live at Royale
Cold War Kids Live at HOB

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