June 5th, 2009 |

After waiting in line outside for what seemed to be over an hour (apparently King Khan’s van was running a little late), I entered the Echo minutes before local garage band meets performing arts troupe Wounded Lion took the stage.  Mixing atonal vocals and basic chord progressions, Wounded Lion offers a unique take on the modern garage rock band.  Between every song, the members of the band, including newest member Monty Buckles of Lamps, switch instruments and vocal duties, which gives each song a fresh new feel.  Riding on the enormously positive feedback of their debut 7” on SS Records, Wounded Lion ripped through the single’s songs “Carol Cloud” and “Pony People,” as well as others like “Dagoba System,” which hopefully will be on their upcoming LP on In the Red.

After Wounded Lion, Mark Sultan took the stage.  Probably known to most people as half of King Khan and BBQ, Sultan shed his BBQ moniker in favor of the name he used on his most resent solo LP on In the Red.  Sultan played a brief set using his trademarked one-man-band setup of playing guitar with his hands and drums with his feet, though this time he was backed by a full band as well.  Sultan played songs from his most recent LP, his recent Sub Pop 7”, as well as a few of his old BBQ classics.

When King Khan and the Shrines finally took the stage, somewhere around midnight, the crowd was packed and ready to let the King take them away.  Armed with a fur coat, a go-go dancer, and a full band of Germans, Khan seemed like James Brown incarnate and had everyone eating out of his hands.  His band, a seemingly wild bunch of German rock’n’roll partiers, was a far contrast to his more timid outings leading King Khan and BBQ Show.  For one song, however, Mark Sultan joined them on stage for “Fish Fight,” taking vocal duties, while Khan moved to guitar.  King Khan’s set was energetic and explosive as they plowed through their classic ‘60s R’n’B and soul inspired songs.  At one point in the set, Khan was offered roses by an adoring fan though he quickly tossed them into the crowd.  The most touching moment was when Khan introduced the song “Welfare Bread,” explaining that he and his wife were recently living on welfare until he was swept up by musical popularity; he then thanked the crowd and told them they were the reason he was able to get out of the gutter.  By the end of the set, Khan’s band was still rocking at full force, though now fully drenched in sweat, as was the crowd.  The organ player picked up his organ and pushed it into the guitar player, making the two fall down—meanwhile the go-go dancer was throwing confetti and glitter all over herself and the crowd.  Khan exited the stage with the true grace of a king, and everyone in attendance assembled in applause.

Daniel Clodfelter