I enjoy pretty much all of King Khan and Mark Sultan (a/k/a BBQ)'s projects; King Khan and his Shrines approximates a scuzzier, low-rent James Brown both on record and onstage, and Mark Sultan's solo work gives him plenty of space to let his Sam Cooke-esque pipes breathe in a one-man band setting. But to me, their finest work is done with each other, as King Khan & BBQ Show, and there's plenty of stuff on their three albums together which should be required listening for all garage rock fanatics.
I've seen Khan with his Shrines several times, and I finally caught a Mark Sultan solo show last May at Knitting Factory Brooklyn (click here for video I took at that show), but this was to be the first KK / BBQ live show I've ever seen, and (I'm pretty sure) their first NYC appearance since their meltdown and subsequent breakup awhile back.
I had ambitions this evening of hitting this show, then hustling back to Williamsburg to catch Marnie Stern's set at Music Hall, and with Santos' website stating that there was another show at the venue after KK & BBQ with doors listed at 10 PM, that seemed like a pretty reasonable goal with Marnie probably not likely to hit the stage until at least 11 PM. Of course, wishful thinking on my part, since the opener didn't even take the fucking stage until after 9 PM. Grrrrrrrrrrr.
By the time Bloodshot Bill's set started up, the front of the stage was uncomfortably jampacked, and people were by and large shitfaced. Bloodshot Bill's performance style resembles Mark Sultan's live setup in many ways, as he performs in one-man-band fashion too, playing guitar, singing, and playing percussion (bass drum and hi-hat) with his feet. (He and Sultan did a decent album of together a couple years ago as The Ding-Dongs, and supposedly have more recorded work in the pipeline under that name.) But where Sultan's voice is built for crooning, Bloodshot Bill's froggy rasp, Buddy Holly hiccups and Jon Spencerish Elvisisms are an entirely different beast altogether. I very much enjoyed his set, which included several classic covers - check below for a fragment of his version of "California Sun."
Prior to KK / BBQ taking the stage, an 8-foot tall glittery penis was hauled onstage as a stage prop, foreshadowing the raucous atmosphere in the crowd and the bawdy onstage humor which would characterize the set. Look behind Khan to the left in this photo for a glimpse:
The set was very entertaining, and it was great to see the crowd rocking the fuck out and getting rowdy instead of the typical NYC bullshit. Khan and Sultan came out dressed in outlandish robes and headdresses, with Sultan performing seated, playing guitar and singing while keeping the beat with his one of his feet each on bass and snare drum, while, ever the showman, Khan assertively stalked the stage, vamping and mugging while (occasionally) playing his guitar with his tongue. Honestly, if there's anyone around that does a better job at the sleazy garage rock thing these days (no, not the Black Lips), I'd love to hear about them.
No clue on the setlist, but before I left I remember they definitely played "Waddlin' Around," "Fish Fight," "Love You So" and the hilarious "Tastebuds" (see below for video of "Tastebuds"). I left elevenish to hit up the aforementioned Marnie Stern show - check back Wednesday for my review of that, plus video an' shit.