As these free shows at the House of Vans have been going on for a couple summers now, you kind of know what you’re getting into at this huge converted warehouse space. Hot as heck, crappy sound, free beer–fueled 20-somethings sweating everywhere, and, seemingly always, rain. But alas, the enormous, fearsome clouds that rolled through and then exploded did so in a relatively quick manner, meaning they could open the huge side door to let people roam. Plus, there’s a new gigantic fan on the ceiling that is a miracle worker. The sound? Still kind of bad. The 20-somethings? Still loaded with sweat glands. More important in the consistent column were King Khan and the Shrines, whose very sound and flurry are incapable of being devoid of fun on even a gloomy rainy day.
Even though the eight-piece ensemble had just got to town and had another more publicized gig at Bowery Ballroom the next night, Khan and his crew held back little and proceeded with their juggling act of ’60s soul revue and au courant garage-rock scruffle. They pulled out rave-up faves like “Land of the Freak” and then got a little poppier with their excellent new single, “Bite My Tongue.” And the crowd, as expected, got more jumpy as things progressed, though they pretty much were bouncing from the get-go.
Despite having a hard time getting his huge Shrines gaggle going on loads of tours, Khan is a master of staying busy, with loads of side projects and making time to come up with boss videos to keep fans salivating for the next time he brings whatever band back into town. But the Shrines’ party rep guarantees a packed house nonetheless. And they got Shrines in spades.
The band was as wailing as always. Khan might’ve had an eye to the next night’s Bowery gig, doing maybe a few less James Brown spin-arounds, not to mention that huge fan probably wasn’t blowing towards the stage too much. Still, it was a sweaty mess for the band, who was soaked by the third tune, and the usual assortment of oddly dressed loons and scantily-clad lasses who always seem to make it up onstage to dance at Shrines gigs. Even some little kids got into the act, grabbing the back-up mics and dancing along. It’s hard to mix family values, giant feather turbans, revived and revved-up R&B, and back-up singing fanboys in ill-fitting speedos, but if there’s one band that can, it’s King Khan and the Shrines.