King Khan and the Shrines live: the ultimate transcendental experience?


In many ways this is the perfect band for me: half-time bass vamps over sweet funky drum grooves… Some soulful horn stabs, crazy keys, a little percussion and wacky licks on the guitar, while King Khan himself lets rip with his off-kilt scream and grrrrrreat body! The perfect marriage between Funk and Rock ‘n’ Roll, with traces of psychedelia, blues, punk, garage, soul and even elements of eastern mysticism. Everything that is good and true about music brought together in one band, on one evening, in once place.

Hardly surprising then that this was once again the highlight of my musical year. Ever since King Khan’s Berlin gig last year, none of the other shows have really come close to the frenetic energy that these guys create on stage and transmit to their audience.

The crowd was buzzing with anticipation last Tuesday night at Lido. Perhaps because the Shrines’ front-man is based in Berlin, this otherwise international band seems to have its most loyal following in this city. Sold out some weeks earlier, everyone was gearing up for the funky mosh-pit that was about to kick off. Slowly the band assumed their positions. A prelude of atmospheric percussion, disjointed bass-lines, a jazzy discord on the horns only building up the tension – so when King Khan strode onto the scene, in full regal attire of golden cape and feathery chief’s crown, we exploded!

I can’t really remember what happened next. Consumed entirely by the music, the next hour was spent in another dimension, where time and space were replaced by rhythm and harmony, where “dancing” like a spastic maniac was sexy, where it was impossible for me to scrutinize and analyze the band from a musician’s point of view (which is what I tend to do), and instead was allowed to lose myself in these moments of pure musical energy. The Land of the Freak is a beautiful place indeed!

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After some time (how long I cannot really say), the music stopped and the band went off. The crowd begged for an encore… but nobody was expecting the arrival of a Ravi Shankar kinda guy with an ancient Asian instrument, somewhere a cross between a sitar and a cello (the internet leads me to believe that it was either a Dilruba or a Esraj). After a charming introduction, he began fiddling his instrument in the most delightful “Indian” manner, his eery melodies opening a new door of perception for us to peek through.

Then out of nowhere, through the audience approached two figures and took their place beside the Indian dude: one was an impressive minotaur beast, it’s voluptuous form guided onto the stage by a naked guy wearing a Greek-style helmet. Somehow the band was back on stage too, and descended into a timeless psychedelic jam, sniggering menacingly into the microphone like the devil at a human sacrifice, the crowd following the pace and intensity of the trance as it descended, accelerated and finally drew its final breath.

They rocked the place with one final rendition of Suffragette City, and then left us panting, sweating and coming back to reality… Even if this time Frederic the keyboardist didn’t surf his keyboard on the crowd: it was the best night of the year, the best live show, the most powerful high you can get. And if you don’t believe me… stay tuned for more gigs here on IndieBerlin, and check out and become a Freak next time.

Review by Lucas Frost