PHOTOS BY JUSTIN YEE
It can feel rare nowadays to find a band at the perfect place in their career where they’re ready to move up and do bigger and better things with their art. In today’s hyper speed of social media and 24-hour news, it’s not often that you find a band and fall in love with their music and realize to yourself that nobody else is really writing about it yet. Or talking about it. Or trading their music freely on torrent sites. Somehow you stumble on a Bandcamp link or an email from a tastemaker friend that blows your mind, and you make it your mission to spread the word and get this band out to the crew to make sure they’re picking up the same stuff you’re putting down.
That’s how it feels to be a Khruangbin fan right now. By this time next year, most everyone will know what this band is all about and why they’re poised to be the newest and sexiest lineup addition to most of the major festivals planned for 2017. But for now, nobody really knows who these guys are.
Or how to pronounce their name (Note: it sounds like crung-bin)…
This past Saturday, the band rolled through Phoenix as part of their first-ever full US tour and the crowd certainly indicated as much. Maybe 100 or so people made it out, but it can easily be deduced that only about 25 people there knew their music and the remaining 75 were dragged there on their friend’s recommendation.
None of that really mattered for opener Asian Fred, a band that drove up from Tucson that fit the vibe of the headliner nicely. They had a sorta whimsical indie-kid-approach-to-70’s-surf-pop (remember that band The Morning Benders?), and they were a fun crew to watch warm up the crowd.
When it came time for Khruangbin to hit the stage and deliver their siren songs to the crowd, it was pretty immediate that it was a band that you want to get up front for and pay attention to the way they’re playing. And given the small crowd, it seemed like the soundman really brought down the levels to be manageable and perfectly balanced. The music just sounded incredible live.
Songs like “Mr. White”, “Dern Kala”, and “People Everywhere (Still Alive)” off The Universe Smiles Upon You were delivered pitch-perfectly. And I think we heard everything else off that record, plus some of the other random stuff they’ve put out since they started making music. The funky drummer break in “Two Fish and an Elephant” was a nice touch, too.
All in all they treated us to a set longer than an hour, which combined the encore into the main flow of the music and left us all blissfully singing guitar lines in our heads as we headed home after a great show.
Get ready for Khruangbin 2017, because it’s going to be a great year for this band and a great year for the fans that are already on-board.