By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One of the leading lights of modern garage rock, singer and guitarist King Khan brings his electrifying psychedelic soul revue the Shrines to the Great American Music Hall Wednesday night.
Arish Ahmad Khan first came to underground rock notoriety as a member of ’90s Montreal-based garage-rock band Spacesh-ts. When that band split, Khan relocated to Berlin and assembled his garage/psych/R&B crew the Shrines. However, his legend grew exponentially when he teamed with former Spacesh-ts bandmate Mark Sultan, first by bringing him on as a member of the Shrines and then founding the King Khan & BBQ Show in 2002. Offering a feral mix of doo-wop and garage punk, the duo featured Sultan bashing out primitive drum rhythms with a foot-pedal setup while simultaneously playing guitar and Khan handling vocals and lead guitar.
The pair developed a reputation for deranged, beer-and-sweat-soaked stage shows, gradually rising from playing dive bars and house parties to headlining major rock clubs on the strength of their live performances and the reverb-drenched tunes heard on their early efforts for Goner and In the Red Records. While the popularity of the duo grew, Khan was simultaneously was recording and touring with the Shrines, releasing early European-only albums for German imprint Sounds of Subterrania and Swiss garage label Voodoo Rhythm Records.
Featuring a full horn section and organ player to fill out the band’s Sun Ra meets Sky Saxon meets Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sound, the Shrines and their powerhouse live stage show gave Khan a platform from which to launch himself to even greater Dionysian heights. Already established as a concert attraction in Europe, Khan and company came to wider audiences in the U.S. after Vice Records released The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines in 2008 that drew from incendiary early efforts Spread Your Love Like Peanut Butter and Three Hairs and You’re Mine.
While King Khan and BBQ Show would split up for a year in 2010, the duo would occupy much of the musician’s time until he reconvened the Shrines to record the emotionally charged and heavily orchestrated garage-soul anthems that made up 2013’s stellar Idle No More. The group has not released a new album since then, but still tours regularly and was one of the highlights of Oakland’s Burger Boogaloo festival in 2016. Last year, Khan released the collaborative album Murderburgers recorded with onetime Oakland garage-rock fixture Greg Ashley on Khan’s own Khannabalism Records label. For this return to San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall Wednesday night, King Khan and the Shrines will be joined by Australian psych-pop songwriter Gabriella Cohen and snotty SF punks the Control Freaks (led by Rip Offs guitarist Greg Lowery).
King Khan and the Shrines
Wednesday, October 17, 8 p.m. $15-$17
Great American Music Hall