King Khan and BBQ Show @ the Ruby Room, Monday, November 12
By Matt Neff
Photos by Luke Holwerda
Chango Rey y El Moreno
King Khan & BBQ
@ The Ruby Room
November 12, 2007
Better than: The Sun Also Rises
The wise guys among us know that one surefire method for cranking out good rock and roll is to have your best bud off the starboard bow at all times. McCartney/Lennon, Richards/Jagger, Page/Plant: a fiercely radioactive internal axis has driven the best bands more reliably than Pringles drive your Uncle Jim. Sadly, the young naïfs who enter into this devil’s bargain inevitably end up bickering, wearing ‘Who the Fuck is _______?’ t-shirts, and/or suing for divorce, but it’s always the swath of destruction they cut on the way to the big sleep that ends up counting for more than peanuts.
But what does this all have to do with the Ruby Room? Well, this past Monday, a pair of stone cold BFFs named King Khan and BBQ rolled through town on their way to god-knows-where, and man alive did the whole sordid affair ever stink of greatness. These two shifty characters are veterans of '90s garage-rockers the Spaceshits, where they were known by various pseudonyms (Blacksnake, Needles, Creepy, etc.) that have given way to this, their latest incarnation, the King Khan and BBQ Show.
These two crank out primo stomping rock ‘n’ soul that is as fresh as it is crude, with enough heartthrob harmonizing soaked in the cracks to drown three of the Ronettes and maybe cause brain damage to Otis Redding. Clearly, King Khan and BBQ could play a sock hop if they didn’t swear so much, but censorship is not in their nature. I hear Sam the Sham, Little Richard, early Kinks, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, doo-wop, lots of Sonics, Gories, James Brown, and of course, Chuck Berry. The lyrics traverse the usual I-luh-huv-you-Yayuh-Yayuh-Yayuh 1960s wordplay universe, but unlike the machine-like precision of, say, Jet, their greasy clichés sound angeled in heaven and as worthless as they are perfect. But, you know, fuck all this deconstruction: these guys know how to write songs and when they play, they play hard and it works.
I recognized both of ‘em pretty quickly walking around the bar on Monday night: King Khan is a tall, cherubic Indian with a particularly Canadian air, and BBQ (nee Mark Sultan) is a big, cheerful bald guy who dresses like one of the Little Rascals. They had some trouble with feedback and volume levels at first (we couldn’t hear the drums), but they managed to plow ahead through a couple dozen R&B rave-ups without breaking a sweat. “Yow!” went the audience members. They did a few slow-dance numbers that had the lovebirds a-twitter and alternated with the garage stomp of yore, and most of it was pretty okay. Seven thumbs up.
If I were a betting man, I might stake a sack of pesos on the idea that these two have more character, soul and vitality in their little knucklebones than an army of Nickelbacks could ever have in their ten thousand corporately-owned bodies. It comforts me to know that if ever I die in a hail of gunfire while robbing a frame store, at least I’ll have seen these guys. (Sock) hop to it!!!
Mark Sultan, AKA BBQ:
King Khan: http://www.geocities.com/theecave/REVIEWS/kingkhan/KINGKHAN.htm
More King Khan: http://smashintransistors.homestead.com/khannibalism.html
Of this lot Tokyo Electron was the most impressive: straightforward sleaze rock with serious Jay Reatard leanings, and tighter than the Blue Angels when performing for the President. Frontman Ryan Rousseau got progressively drunker as the set wore on, to great effect. He staggered and thrashed all over his red SG while the rhythm section hammered their instruments like the skies were opening to hell. On the last song, they pushed the intensity up to maddening levels and kept it there like some long, unbearable coitus. Listening to “Make Me Bleed” on their MySpace page confirms that they can replicate it on record. Well done, m’boys, well done.
The Okmoniks were bouncy, organ-infused power pop from Tucson. Lead singer Helene 33 (that’s what she’s calling herself) did okay, and after the show she gave me a neat sticker. Hey, alright! That’s going right on my toilet seat!
Chango Rey y El Moreno were somewhat forgettable garage rock from San Diego. The guitarist chunked out a heavy twang but the singer’s voice didn’t do much to cut through the racket. He did have some cool shades, though. Meh!
Personal Bias: They had me at hello.
Random Detail: Apparently King Khan has a sister named Princess CocoButter Khan who fronts the Del Gators.