Some people think rock n’ roll is dead. At least traditional rock n roll, the kind that your parents might have listened to. But, after a night at Logan Square Auditorium, it’s abundantly clear that those people are dead wrong. I mean the ones who think rock n roll is dead, not your parents. Okay, maybe your parents are wrong too.
Opening act Those Darlins sounded and looked like a Tennessee version of Vivian Girls. That is, a version that I would bet likes getting sloppy drunk and listening to rockabilly. And, from all appearances, that’s exactly what they are. The three female guitar/bass players spent their set passing instruments around, howling and crooning. The Tennesseans had a certain Sleater-Kinney swagger, cranking out convincing, strong pop tunes, but here with a honky tonk swing to it. The Kelly, Jessi and Nikki Darlin were backed by tambourine-happy drummer Linwood Regensberg. All three ladies took turns at the mic, all three sounded equally strong on whichever guitar wound up in their hands, and everything came together as a raucous party.
But, if anyone does, the King Khan and BBQ Show know how to party. King Khan, in a gold lame, J-Lo style dress and neon green wig, and BBQ (with trademark turban) came out to a rowdy round of applause. BBQ, playing guitar behind a set of kick drums, nodded to the crowd before he and Khan shuddered into a Chuck Berry-esque groove, consistently cranking the speed and pitch on the melody faster and higher, over and over. Eventually, the groove spun out into the excellent “Fish Fight” and the crowd never stopped bobbing after that. Khan strutted around the stage, duck-walking, using his guitar as a machine gun, generally mugging at the onlookers.
Another tune off of the duo’s eponymous, debut LP, “Hold Me Tight” came next. At strange moments in this and many songs, BBQ would find a primal grunt inside that proved to be much louder than anything else the two could put out. The sublime “Waddlin’ Around” was a light change of pace compared to the generally rough and tumble open to the set. The psychopathic “Zombie” quickly brought the snarl back, with Khan’s shouts of “I don’t give a fuck!” ringing through the hall. There were a few bottles thrown, but, as much as this could possibly be the case, it all seemed in good fun.
They were on tour to support their new long-player, Invisible Girl, after all, so they got to all the best tracks from that great disc, eventually. Of these, “I’ll Be Loving You” is easily the best. BBQ belted out the simple, killer melody as he and Khan matched jangly chords on top of each other, his feet stomping out the rhythm perfectly. The ridiculously dirty “Tastebuds” was an…errr…crowd pleaser as well. The song, ostensibly about placing taste buds on genitals in order to… okay, enough explanation. But, the people loved it, and the rowdy crowd jumped and danced along into the night.