I went to a show the other night thinking, 'Gee, this 60s Northern Soul revivalist band's gonna be nifty. I'll dance in the go-go style and it'll be like stepping in a time machine. That'll be swell."
So I went to see King Khan and the Shrines at the Great American Music Hall and bled all over the dance floor--which I do intend to explain in further detail--but I must say, seriously you guys, the pain suffered by myself and Sarah V was so worth it (although I speak for myself here as Sarah V was severely pissed about getting intentionally socked in the face).
And, I would also like to add, that if you are going to a King Khan show and intend on standing close enough to the stage in order that you may catch some of the great Shaman-Maharaja's sweet sweat trickling down from his red, ruffled pirate shirt billowing beneath a white leisure suit, you are just asking for bodily injuries.
The music itself, a slick, smirking big band nod to Motown, early 70s Rhythm & Blues and the aforementioned Northern Soul, casts the King as a gruff, howling James Brown/Iggy Pop and something or other you-know-you've-heard-him-before hybrid impressionist with the chops to pull it off so well that you'd swear he'd been transported directly from the 70s via DeLorean. Quick history: the King was raised in Montreal and gathered his band members in Berlin. His first retro album, with then-band name "King Khan and BBQ Show", was recorded in a Nazi bunker, or so the story goes. As a critical side note, the drummer, Ron (spelled "Rahn") Streeter once played for Ike and Tina, Bo Diddley, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder.
But the crowd, or rather, the hysteria brought upon the crowd under the influence of such powerful, raw nostalgia, was pure punk rock in nature and can eat you alive as me and Sarah V found out. The King waved his magic scepter, or in this case an owl statue with a revolving head, and a woman dancing next to my friend Jim magnetically jumped on his shoulders, sat up good and tall, and removed her t-shirt waving it around like a lasso. This allowed for a full bear hug from the King, and many a high-five given to Jim by male audience members. At one point, the owl head mysteriously appeared at my feet and I grabbed it with the same ferocious enthusiasm typically reserved for Red Socks fans capturing fly balls at the World Series.
At one point the 60s-inspired dancing and foot-stomping became a bit much, however, as my Achilles tendon was stomped on to shreds and, thus, the blood did flow. Rest assured I was a complete baby about it, running to the bar and screaming to the bartender like a wounded soldier in a flurry of shock and panic, "I'm bleeeding!!! I'm bleeee-ding-over-here!!!" I am happy to report that my cries were heard and the barback swiftly provided the necessary gauze and thick band-aid and I was ready to go back to rocking in no time.
I can safely say that good time was had by all, with the exception of Sarah V.
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Here are some Khan quotes that I think speak volumes about the "King Khan and the Shrines experience":
--"My great grandfather was the Johnny Thunders of the sitar. He played but never recorded anything and became a serious opium addict. My father tried to play sitar but chose the fast life over that and wound up down and out and addicted to cocaine. My mother can play harp like Bob Dylan.”
--“You don´t have to be from Louisiana to practice voodoo, I learned much from my mother and grandmother. I began seriously practicing voodoo to fulfil my infinite sexual fantasies and when the mojo started working I figured “hey, why not put this to music?”
--"I learned lots about being a punk from my two best Mohawk friends Leborgne and Beserker. We used to get drunk, smash cars, go hunting for white women."