It was hot as hell inside the Electric Owl on Sunday night. The first signs of fall had started to show: the leaves had begun to change from green to brown. A chill wind cut through the air, and toques were being worn for more than purely stylistic purposes. Heck, even Winter Ale was back on tap. We were dressed for the weather, scarves and all. Combined with a healthy amount of jiving courtesy of reunited garagers the King Khan & BBQ Show, the Owl’s temperature was cranked to a sweaty mess.
The King Khan & BBQ Show, the two-piece garage punkers from Montreal, are another perfect example that it doesn’t take an orchestra to produce a formidable sound. Mark Sultan (BBQ), sitting low on his little kick drum set, plays guitar and sings crisp, doo-wop vocals while Khan controls the front of the stage. Donning a cape, a shoddy tribal mask (with blonde wig), and a brown beer belly, Khan is a visual car crash: you just can’t look away. He owns it, jumping around with one leg propped on a speaker and shoving his garage licks down your throat. The King Khan & BBQ Show’s in-your-face, confrontational approach to the stage had the whole club jumping, even crowd-surfing. The low-hanging disco ball had become an unexpected pinata peppered by rogue skate shoes and wayward beers.
Kicking the show off with a Johnny B. Goode-type riff, Khan and BBQ jammed for the first ten minutes of the show. The crowd was loving every minute, and Khan was reciprocated our love with O-faces on every twang of his guitar. His shiny crotch inched slowly towards the front row of moshers during “Fish Fight”. Fans were climbing on top of shoulders and throwing their feet in the air. It was rowdy near the front of the stage.
KK&BBQ’s music is drenched in soul, taking influence from the Mighty Hannibal among others. They put their own spin on a classic genre, fusing it with gritty rock that pleases the ears of young punks and aged purists alike. Sunday night saw three generations partying together, coming together to give thanks for quality Rock ‘n’ Roll. Everyone was on the verge of puking up their turkey dinners, yet that didn’t slow anyone down. Not a problem. If we were to puke, we would have danced in it. We would have done the twist in it. We would have picked it up and tossed it around.
Playing songs primarily from their two latest LPs — What’s For Dinner? (2006), Invisible Girl (2009) — the two-piece had enough to entertain a raucous crowd for a solid ninety minutes. At one point, near the halfway mark, a giddy photographer danced her way across the stage, jiving her way from side to side between Khan and Sultan. The music cut out. The band was not impressed. Khan told her politely to fuck off and not intrude their set. Later, rogue garbage whizzed past the frontman’s head, and once again, he told someone to fuck off halfway through a song. These guys aren’t afraid to banter with the crowd, but more importantly, they won’t shy away from sending a verbal jab if someone’s pissing them off. Each exchange got a positive reaction from the crowd.
Twisting and shouting. Jiving and diving. Surfing and punching. Middle fingers flying high towards the front of the stage. Fuck you. Fuck me. The best of friends we’ll always be. The King Khan & BBQ Show’s set at the Electric Owl left no one dissatisfied. We were thrusted out into the cold, chilly night dripping with sweat and “I Love You So” stuck in our heads. Full of piss from a fast-paced dance-a-thon. Sultan’s crisp vocals ringing clear in my head and, like it or not, Khan’s shiny crotch etched into my memory. Great music and incredible stage presence to boot. A new record in the future? I certainly hope so. There’s never enough of the King Khan & BBQ Show.