Skyrocketing from a monumental night of taping for the official Austin City Limits TVs’ 47th season, Houston-based trio Khruangbin kicked off a four-night run on Wednesday, September 15th, in Austin, Texas. Serving up equal parts cosmic funk-rock and unabashedly chill groove, the talented triad, composed of Laura Lee (bass, vocals), Mark Speer (guitar, vocals), and Donald “DJ” Johnson (drums, vocals), took to Stubb’s historic-awned stage in Austin, Texas, for an extended escapade of sold-out divination.
Each twilight brought its own delectably curated menu of symphonic mastery, fueled by the incredible fusion of the crowd’s admiration and the band’s unmistakable dream-state energy. Stubbs Austin was at full capacity, with the crowd absolutely delighted to be back in the thrusts of a sold-out show at the iconic venue in the city’s Red River District.
Khruangbin is a Thai word meaning “engine fly” or “airplane,” which explains the slew of blow-up airplanes that took flight into the crowd at the tail end of Friday evening. The opener on Wednesday witnessed a different type of air-filled flight, with a herd of blow-up bovines released into the crowd during the band’s 2020 album, Mordechai’s “Time (You and I), eventually making their way into bars around town late into the night (I can personally attest to this fact).
While attendees of the show had to either show a vaccination card or a negative test within 72 hours of the entry, the unapologetic virus did not stop the tender pack of willing participants from being hypnotized by the mellow, global-inspired beats the relentless and ruthless trio produces. While Speer and Johnson met playing music in the church band together, the group reigned their untouchable and intoxicating sonic drip from their deep-rooted love of eastern culture, particularly Iranian, Thai, Pakistani, and Afghani sounds.
Throughout the undoubtedly extra-terrestrial space exploration of aural tones and funky textures, each night shone one on its own, with all members of the band playing their part to deliver their one-of-a-kind soundwaves, both soothing and simplistic, yet ethereal and fascinating, all in one beautiful “Khru” package.
No Khruangbin show is complete without the next-level style and outfit design of all three of the band’s musicians, but especially (if you have been paying attention) Laura Lee(zy), who takes the cake and the cherry on top when it comes to fashion accolades. The entirety of Lee’s essence is incomprehensively mirrored through her immaculately detailed and thought-out stage looks (with help from her nothing-but-legendary team), her bass-slaying, and ultimately, her ability to gain the infatuation of everyone standing proudly in her wildly beautiful presence. Even Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers took notice of Leezy, praising her via Twitter on Saturday morning. “Laura Lee just laying out hard ass bass lines one after the next like it’s nothing, love it”.
Laura Lee just laying out hard ass bass lines one after the next like it’s nothing, love it.
— Flea (@flea333) September 18, 2021
Friday night’s show was a special kind of energy, crescendoing slowly from each cloud-like atmosphere the bands’ music takes its listeners to. Leaving the stratosphere of celestial jamming, the band unfoiled into a melodious layering of a fine-tuned selection of past-time staples, sampling medleys from David McCallum’s “The Edge,” The Isley Brothers’s “Footsteps in the Dark,” Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’”, O.D.B.’s “Got Your Money,” Ronnie Foster’s “Mystic Brew,” Chris Issak’s “Wicked Games,” “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” by Roy Ayers, “Mary Jane” by Rick James…among others.
The group lovingly hurdled into “So We Won’t Forget” and “Pelota” before exiting with a thunderous roar from an entranced and unified sway of sweaty, smiling human-aliens. After unceasing applause, the trio graced the stage yet again, this time, Leezy wearing an incredible blue sequin mini-dress, exclaiming “Today would have been my grandpa’s 101st birthday — Happy Birthday Grandpa!”
Will Van Horn, a pedal-steel player from Austin, joined in for the last two numbers of a three-song encore, including “Zionsville” and The Universe Smiles Upon You’s arguably most-loved joint “People Everywhere (Still Alive)”. Saturday saw just as much magical prowess, with Lee dawning Houston brand Kennimer, a clothing company that creates custom, fringe-centric get-ups and country-western-inspired attire. Her ‘fit was so good, even Orville Peck shouted out Lee’s custom Kennimer with a “🥰” comment on Instagram.
The band’s first of what will surely be many four-night runs can be summed up exquisitely with a quote from an eager attendee Kyle H. who readily proclaimed “They are a 2-set band but they don’t know it yet.”
Khruangbin sauntered (literally) from their four nights of idyllic Texas Sun(set)s straight up the mountain to headline two SOLD-OUT nights at Red Rocks last Monday and Tuesday, September 20th and 21st.