Khruangbin blends genres during San Diego performance

by Spencer White, Staff Writer

Khruangbin delivered a fiery performance Nov. 10 at the Observatory in North Park.

The trio from Houston, Texas that includes with Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums,  combine its mystifying talents to perform music with influences from many genres including soul, funk, R&B and psychedelic rock, producing jams evocative of bands like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers.

The sold-out show started with Will Van Horn, a sliding guitarist who was joined by a bassist and drummer, similar to headliner Khruangbin. Van Horn was having fun with the audience, saying he even played experimental electronic music.

“That one was an Aphex Twin cover,” Horn said, while he was sliding away licks from his guitar and the bassist delivered wonky bass lines.

The band closed its set with a cover of the early 2000s Britney Spears hit “Toxic.”

When the opener was finished, Khruangbin had to get their stage set up, with two large disco balls on both sides of drummer Johnson and a row of high-powered stage lights that looked like they would fit better in a construction site than a rock concert.

The band eventually came on to a roar of applause, and the music didn’t stop until the band went away before the encore. The band transported the San Diego crowd on a caravan ride through the Middle Eastern desert, a landscape the band has said has been a major inspiration in its music.

Most of the songs in Khruangbin’s set blended extremely well, almost sounding like one continuous track.

The band released its sophomore album, “Con Todo el Mundo” in January of this year, and it featured standouts like “Friday Morning,” “August 10” and “Maria Tambien,” which featured a coda of the disco standard, “Jump On It.”

The band also featured a medley of hip-hop classics in its set, like “The Next Episode,” “Regulators” and songs by A Tribe Called Quest, Sade and Notorious B.I.G.

Speer’s guitar playing mimicked the voices of these singers and rappers, while Lee delivered thick bass lines and drummer Johnson kept a consistent and subtle beat throughout each and every song.

Speer and Lee could not help showing off their chemistry, with the two smiling at each other throughout the show and even playing back-to-back for a song.

The band returned to the stage when the audience was absolutely thunderous in hopes for an encore, and one by one, the members would add their instrument back into the set.

The band finished its set with a blanket of heavy reverb, once again reminding the audience the band’s name is Khruangbin, and they are from Houston, though it’s unlikely the audience will forget the band anytime soon.