Concert Review: Khruangbin Space Walking Tour at the Fillmore Miami Beach May 8, 2022

Houston trio Khruangbin’s live performances have always been about creating a vibe. That’s not meant to be a backhanded compliment. Laura Lee, Mark Speer and Donald “DJ” Johnson are experts at setting the right mood for their style of funk-laden psychedelic rock.

On Sunday night, the band took the stage at the Fillmore Miami Beach for the second night in a row. Addressing the crowd, Speer acknowledged that anyone who attended Saturday’s show would be a little disappointed that the set list was almost the same, jokingly adding that “the deviation is purely coincidental”.

What wasn’t a joke was that starter Toro y Moi was unable to make the second show, due to a positive COVID-19 test. In fact, it was a disappointment, considering Chaz Bundick is a headliner in his own right. In his place was A Tribe Called Quest founding member Jarobi White, who played to an eager crowd for nearly an hour.

Finally, around 9:15 pm, Khruangbin appeared against a backdrop that resembled the set of a 1970s sci-fi movie—appropriate, considering this is the band’s Space Walk Tour.

The set opened with “First Class”, and the 2020 album opener. Mordechai it served as a fitting introduction to the level of relaxation the show would come to encompass. You came to the wrong show if you entered the Fillmore expecting a high-energy performance. That’s not to say Khruangbin lacked oomph on stage. In fact, the band oozes stage presence. Lee slipped away, playing his bass and teasing the crowd with his natural charisma (and a thigh-length dress slit). Perched high above his bandmates, Johnson exuded effortless cool behind the drums. Then there was Speer, who might have the best hair in music right now, and who oscillated between sex in a suit and good humor throughout the night.

By the time the band worked on their smash hit “So We Won’t Forget,” Khruangbin had the crowd eating out of his hand. The track is tailor-made for collective singing: “Ooooooooooh/One to remember/Writing it down now/So we don’t forget.” It was also the moment I realized that this was Khruangbin’s first time performing in Miami outside of a festival.

In many ways, the band is built for festival consumption: laid-back vibes, retro aesthetics, easy-to-digest tunes, it all fits the festival bill. And indeed, the crowd at the Fillmore on Sunday felt like a microcosm of what you might find at a music festival: laid-back frat brothers in baseball caps, Kylie Jenner clones who may have been there primarily to say that attended, and a contingent who clearly wish they had been conceived at Woodstock in ’69. Hell, even producer/DJ Diplo walked through the crowd to hear a few songs.

click to enlarge Guitarist Mark Speer at the Fillmore Miami Beach on Sunday, May 8.  - PHOTO BY JOSE D. DURAN

Guitarist Mark Speer at the Fillmore Miami Beach on Sunday, May 8.

Photo by José D. Duran

But even all of these disparate demographics couldn’t help but be enthralled by the performance. During “Evan Finds the Third Room”, Lee, the most popular member of the trio by far, stated “Yes!” in a way that sounded both practical and orgasmic, while Speer and Johnson continued with “This is the third room.”

Other highlights included live performances of “Pelota”, “New Bill” and “Maria Tambien”. But the sensations in any Khruangbin show are the instrumental medleys. He first started with David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” before working on Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets”, Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day”, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money”, “True” by Spandau Ballet and “Evil Game” by Chris Isaak.

At one point, I couldn’t help but feel like the entire show had a Tarantino soundtrack quality, and five minutes later, the trio launched into Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” (aka the pulp fiction theme song).

The climax came with the band’s instrumental version of Snap!’s 1992 hit “Rhythm Is a Dancer.” It was the moment when Gen X and Millennial attendees could be distinguished from the younger members of the audience, as a puzzled look fell on Gen Z attendees who seemed unaware that the song had lyrics. . The tribute to 1990s dance music continued as the band mingled with Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)”, turning the Fillmore into a massive dance club for the next ten minutes as the two disco balls Giants reflected light throughout space. .

Finally, after a break and a call for an encore, the band returned to perform “White Glove”, “Time (You and I)” and “People Everywhere (Still Alive)”. Lee had changed into a sparkly fringed gown that wouldn’t have been out of place at Studio 54; naturally, the crowd went wild. Lee has become an icon of both music and style to many, and the enthusiastic applause directed her way throughout the night made it clear who was the crowd favorite.

However, Khruangbin has gained popularity thanks to the strength of all its members. It’s not burning up the charts: Mordechai peaked at number 31 on the Billboard 200, but the band managed to sell out back-to-back shows at the Fillmore Miami Beach, which is by no means a small venue.

If you’re looking for evidence that the charts aren’t an indication of success in 2022, it’s the relentless adoration Khruangbin continues to enjoy: album sales be damned!

Songs list:

– “First class”
– “August 12”
– “The Number 4”
– “August 10″/”Night Nurse”
– “So That We Do Not Forget”
– “Lady and Man”
– “Evan finds the third room”
– “New bill”
– “Ball”
– Mix #1
– Mix #2
– “Maria Too”/”Misirlou”/”Apache”

– “White Gloves”
– “Time (you and me)”
– “People Everywhere (Still Alive)”

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