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Khruangbin Brings World Influences to First Avenue

…But Mostly Psychedelia

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

Khruangbin was back in the Main Room on Tuesday Night for their third show in the Twin Cities this year in support of their 2018 release Con Todo El Mundo, which was a phrase taken from bassist Laura Lee’s grandfather meaning “with all the world.” If I’m not mistaken, this was their fourth show in Minnesota, as they have only been releasing music since 2015. Considering three of those four shows have been in the past year alone, that’s a pretty good track record.

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

Clearly this band is on the way up, not only because of their frequency of playing, but also looking at the venue sizes and gigs they have played in Minnesota alone. They first played in First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry, followed by Turf Club, they opened for Leon Bridges at Palace Theatre, and now a headlining show in the Main Room which had only 100 tickets left at the door when they opened.

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

Following openers Ginger Root, the Houston trio eased their way onto the stage in their typical fashionable mystique, and started the night off slow and spacey with an intro that was already putting the crowd into a funk mood that would persist throughout the rest of the show. This slow-paced intro came to an abrupt halt as the band jumped straight into funk jam “Bin Bin,” which, to most unfamiliar with the band or the song, would be easy to mistake as an instrumental jam straight out of the 70’s on a James Brown record.

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

The psychedelic mood flipped, and this had the chilled out crowd moving. Within just the first few songs the slowly grooving crowd caught a good glimpse of what was yet to come throughout the rest of the night by the band shining some light on their many different world influences.

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

As the night went on, the crowd was soothed into an intoxicated state of ecstasy with their psychedelic surf sound that has gotten this group so much attention in a short period of time. Khruangbin relentlessly layered the room with waves of chillness and reverb for nearly an hour until their cover medley emerged from the haze.

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

At this point in the night, their set reminded me of a drugged-out chapter in a book like Inherent Vice, where songs are blending together and it becomes harder and harder to remember what just happened. The next thing I knew I was hearing what I found to be an extremely soothing cover of “Christmas Time Is Here,” proving to all of you Scrooges out there that great Christmas music does exist, it just may not be what you hear abused by commercial radio. Then a plethora of other covers mixed into their medley. I don’t know any other live show I’ve been to where I’ve heard Dr. Dre, Dick Dale, Christmas music and more in the same set, intertwined into a batch of original songs.

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

Eventually, leaving the stage after a little over an hour of playing, they emerged from the darkness for an extremely significant encore that lasted around thirty minutes, with somewhere near five songs. Only this time on stage, Mia Wallace look-alike Laura Lee was about as reflective as the International Space Station, decked out in a 70s disco ball outfit and ready to groove one more time.

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel
Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

From guitarist Mark Speer’s face-melting work to Laura Lee’s funky bass lines and sexy knee drops to drummer Donald Ray “DJ” Johnson’s simple yet in-the-pocket playing, this band has a lot to offer both musically and visually. At times, there almost seemed to be a sexual tension between the frontman and woman, all while pulling sound from areas of the world where they find inspiration and blending it together into their incredible psychedelic aesthetic which some consider “Thai Funk.”

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

Creating equally as many conversations on how to pronounce their name as to how great their music is, Khruangbin (although mostly instrumental) plays an incredible live show. Even though they are a fantastic band, we can’t get greedy just because they have played here three times this year. Let’s hope this can continue to be a flourishing relationship and that Khruangbin can play here four times in 2019! How much does Minnesota love this band? “Con Todo El Mundo.”

Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel
Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel
Khruangbin
Photo by Christian Spraungel

 

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