King Khan & BBQ Show Prolong Halloween at the Triple Rock
November 1st falling on a Saturday gave a lot of people an easy excuse to get a little additional mileage out of Halloween, which means that the crowd at the Triple Rock that night featured an Amy Winehouse, a Thor, a (sigh) Sarah Palin, and at least a couple “I don’t know what I want to go as so I’ll just dress sexy” copouts. There was also a man in a disheveled turban and another man in a gold lame micro-mini-dress and gigantic wig done up all early ‘70s Tina Turner-style, but they weren’t done up that way because of Halloween – they were done up that way because they were King Khan and BBQ, and they are the best kind of rock’n’roll lunatics.
The deal with these two guys is that they came up in music together via a band called the Spaceshits, who I hope have t-shirts available somewhere. And while Khan -- the guy in the Nutbush City Limits drag, who changed in to a snake costume for the encore -- has caught a bit of attention as the frontman of King Khan and the Shrines – the garage-soul force of nature that Vice Records recently compiled under the apt title The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines – his other gig with the one-man-does-it-all rhythm section/co-vocalist BBQ is also a thing to be reckoned with; a sort of rockabilly/rhythm’n’blues/doo-wop thing except with all the volume and wildness of punk rock. You’ve probably run across something like that before – hell, the Cramps were probably doing it before most of us were born – but the King Khan & BBQ show pull it off so well because they come at it from an unexpected angle: BBQ not only plays rhythm guitar and foot-stomp-propelled bass and snare drums simultaneously, he sings remarkably well – a bit closer to a cross between Ben E. King and Frankie Valli than your archetypal garage-punk screamers.
Khan, however, is a garage-punk screamer – and a hell of a screamer at that, with a knack for harmonizing as well – and as a guitarist he plays like Chuck Berry trying his hand at hardcore, which fits a lot better than the vice-versa scenario most b-grade psychobilly pretenders shoot for.
In fact, there was so much raucous bad-ass rock’n’roll power that shit went haywire a couple times: first the show had to stop for a couple minutes as Khan pointed out a couple woman-shoving dirtbags out to security, drawing that crucial line between wildness and jerkdom. And then, almost inevitably, one of his guitar strings broke, so he had to quickly procure a replacement guitar from one of the opening bands. Unfortunately, since the guitar in question came from the band Women, who spent 40 minutes using said guitar in the service of a droney, noisy, flat-sounding squall that sounded almost nothing like the twangy growl of the headliner’s instrument, it took something like eight minutes to tune the damn thing properly. Those were the only hitches in an hour’s worth of performance, though, and maybe the respites helped people catch their breath: after all their songs about animal parties, human waste, zombies and the benefits of getting treated like a dog, they provided enough diabolical madness to make people want to eat fun-size Snickers and egg houses well into Thanksgiving.