Khruangbin Hurls Cows and Curates Vibes at Stubb's
Night two of sold-out run soothes millennial anxiety disorder
By Christina Garcia,
11:45AM, Fri. Sep. 17, 2021
Having a cow is on the rise, and Khruangbin dumped dozens of the little inflatable bovines over their crowd on Thursday night.
Less a comment on losing one’s shit than, probably, a reference to the moo-ing, gentle, if intensely-flatulent friends roaming around the soulful trio’s Texan barn recording space, the small cows were hurled like footballs from the stage-left staircase as the band played “Time (You and I)” to a crowd of gingerly grooving, unmasked en-masse, but vaccinated or recently covid-negative fans.
Though Houston-born, Khruangbin enjoyed home-turf love throughout the second show of a sold-out four-night run at Stubb’s, draping their groovy, bluesy, jazzy, funky, jam-bandy blend of influences from around the globe on an audience law-bound and reflexively primed to answer guitarist Marc Speer when he sang “the stars at night are big and bright.” Deep in the heart of Austin, the swaying throng was putty for medley’s of Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam” and Chaka Demus & Pliers “Murder She Wrote,” then later Ohio Player’s “Rollercoaster of Love.” Known for melding Iranian, Thai, and Afghani influences together in a tapestry rich in surf rock and dub tones – “Spotify-core” – said one fan, bassist Laura Lee and Speer did their best alien impressions, playing with composure and extra-terrestrial (or at least vaguely Egyptian) hair as drummer Donald Johnson Jr. kept time from beneath a poncho.
In high spirits and encouraging the crowd to introduce themselves to neighbors under bright lights so that Speer could declare “I can see you,” after prompting the interactions, Khruangbin funked out plenty of their 2020 album, Mordechai, from the affirming “Evan Finds the Third Room” to the surreal, Spanish-language “Pelota,” among their hourlong set of unrelentingly relaxing vibe curation. Khruangbin for millennial anxiety disorder?
As for the openers, missing Thursday night’s band, Ruben Moreno and the Zydeco Re-Evolution, was a mistake, but not for many. That dirt and gravel lawn was already more than half full by 8pm when treated to a passionate washboard assault from Alex Harris McDonald. The man worked his frottoir, a ribbed, metal board hanging from his shoulders, like a gleeful worshipper taken by the holy spirit. McDonald was a leaf in a hurricane sustained by the scraping attack he himself inflicted on his own metallic vest, rippling and scratching like a man possessed. Houston’s Chicano Creole accordion player and singer, Ruben Moreno, led an hour of this French-Caribbean ruckus of a five-man band to kick the whole evening off, a fine start to a night of music inspired by cultures far from our own.