King Khan is notorious for having more charisma and drive than most people could muster in a lifetime of trying. From what I was assured beforehand, I had little doubt that this freak-funk garage party from Mars would be a blast of energy — and for the most, part it was.
Opening up for such a riotous affair might weigh on the side of intimidating, but local gypsy jangle folk-rockers Indian Wars managed to bring on the country fuzz and get the growing crowd going. Montreal’s Hellshovel was up next and although their warped brand of rock from the garage is probably better suited to a smaller venue, they still played hard and undoubtedly brought a few new fans onboard.
With little time wasted between sets, the Shrines were already on stage as I refreshed my beverage. The buzz in the building was mounting and most assuredly the die-hard fans in attendance were ready and willing for anything; what we got was a band on top of their game. The Shrines 7-piece brass and tacks orchestra were massive and of inexhaustible energy, sweating, rolling, and jumping through a set that spanned their 13-year existence. They hit old favourites like “I Wanna Be a Girl” and “Land of the Freak” in the way only a crack funk R & B rock band can.
While the Shrines are great, people come to see the enigmatic frontman, King Khan: a crazy, pudgy East-Indian man, who lets loose with howling vocal tricks and a sparkle in his eye. But time and life have taken their toll on Khan and the assured insanity was most definitely at a lesser volume.
While the band picked up and delivered intensity at the halfway point, Khan kept it tame, relying on belting out the words to songs that clearly mean a lot to him as opposed to acting a fool. That’s all well and fine as long as you’re not just going through the motions, but that’s how it felt at times.
Maybe the hype got expectations running into overdrive and maybe expectations are too explosive for my own good, but to see a band give it their everything — even when their everything might be the obligatory stage dive, keyboards lofted over the head, and big smiles all around — there’s still the feeling that there could have been more.
Khan and company definitely delivered to the faithful. Sound and quality of music alike, they were awesome. With a rip-roar through funk from the past melded with futuristic garage-rock from another planet, they bring fun music with a current message, and at the end of the night, shaking your tail feathers and having fun is all that’s really important.