Khruangbin @ CCA, Glasgow, 4 Feb

Texas psych trio Khruangbin's globe-trotting sounds bring some much-needed warmth to Glasgow's CCA

Live Review by Alexander Smail | 08 Feb 2018

A Sunday night in February in Glasgow may not seem the most appropriate time or place for a psychedelic funk band to take the stage, but the crowd at the CCA are more than ready to shrug off the winter cold and bask in the instrumental sun of Khruangbin for a night.

Support act The Shacks lure the audience into the assumption that they’re just another chic guitar pop band – singer and bassist Shannon Wise dons retrofuturistic sunglasses that she takes off only once throughout the band’s set, to tell the worst joke we’ve ever heard (something about noodles and spaghetti). With a rousing performance of single This Strange Effect though, they pump vigour into the venue that remains unmatched the rest of the evening. Before they go, the band introduce each member; Evan Heinze, the keyboardist, is “also known as Chocolate Milk,” Wise informs the audience, to equal parts laughter and confused silence.

Khruangbin’s sense of humour is similarly off-kilter. Bassist Laura Lee and guitarist Mark Speer make each other – and half the audience – laugh, simply by swerving their bodies in time with the rhythm of the music, whilst Speer maintains the same deadpan expression on his face throughout the set, even when delivering the sprawling ambient guitar grooves the band are celebrated for. The Middle Eastern-tinged Maria También, with its erratic melodies, allows Speer free rein to boast his talent and flair.

A strong bassist is the backbone of any good band but, in the case of Khruangbin, Lee may as well be the blood, muscle, and nerves too. Her measuredly masterful bass work anchors the entire set, allowing Speer to let loose with solos and effect pedals. Drummer Donald Johnson’s presence is similarly understated, with nary a fancy fill in sight; his one solo of the set is so low-key that his bandmates pick up their drinks and toast each other in the midst of it.

The trio’s new album, Con Todo el Mundo, actively rejects genre labels and this is even more apparent in a live setting. Their music is boundless, a hypnotic vortex that only grows deeper the longer they play. By the end of the set, the crowd are wrapped in a state of hypnagogic inertia, lifted back up to reality only by a potent encore of People Everywhere (Still Alive), which vigorously wakes everybody out of a trance they didn’t even know they were in.

 “Y’all warm this old country boy’s heart, can I get a ‘yee-haw’,” Speer asks in a Southern American accent so thick it’s unclear whether he put it on. Khruangbin’s sprawling psychedelic ambience is a few miles off from country, but they bring the warmth of Southern hospitality to a frosty Glasgow evening in dire need of it.