King Khan at the Pitchfork Music Festival, July 2008. (photo by George Aye)
If a friend showed up at your house wearing gold lamé underwear, a cape, and toting a cooler of dry ice, you just might back away slowly and bolt the door. When it happens at a rock show, you know you're in for something special, and you press as close to the front as you can. That's what was in store for the crowds at the Pitchfork Music festival last summer when King Khan & the Shrines took the stage.
Somewhere between Neo-Soul and performance art, this lovechild of James Brown and Sun Ra truly is a rock n' roll showman. King Khan struts, he preens, he screams, he sings! He also seems to enjoy making the rounds in Chicago, as he's been back a few times in the past year, always stopping in at the Bottom Lounge (where he'll perform Friday night). The large music space accommodates King Khan and the Shrines' flamboyant, exuberant performance style (complete with elaborate costumes and a disco cheerleader), while keeping a show feeling intimate. The group's sound is somewhere between a balls out soul scream (think Brown's "I Feel Good") and a sweaty, summer rooftop dance party. I doubt there will be anyone who will walk away from Friday's show saying that King Khan didn't bring it. Pick up a copy of their album What Is?! for a good listen, or check the tracks below for a taste.
See more photos from King Khan's set at the Pitchfork Music Festival 2008, by our intrepid fest photographer, George Aye.
King Khan & the Shrines - What Is?! - Welfare Bread [mp3]
King Khan & the Shrines - What Is?! - No Regrets [mp3]
King Khan & the Shrines play the Bottom Lounge this Friday, May 15th. Show starts 9pm with Mark Sultan (aka BBQ Show) and Maximum Wage opening. 18+. Tickets $15. The Bottom Lounge is located at 1375 W. Lake St., Chicago. (312) 666-6775.