Concert Review

Concert Review: Khruangbin and Thundercat

todayOctober 1, 2022 57 3

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McKenzie McGuire
Music Journalist

A night of alluring sounds from Khruangbin was a healing experience. The three members Laura Lee, Mark Speer, and Donald Johnson from Houston, put on a set that allowed people to express themselves, unlike any live show I’ve experienced. With their sound being primarily acoustic, not focusing on lyrics makes the crowd absorb every beat, riff, and baseline that oozes off of the stage.

 Khruangbin live at Germania Amphitheater.
Khruangbin live at Germania Amphitheater.
Left to Right: Mark Speer, Laura Lee, Donald Johnson / Kyle Hormighausen/KTSW

The most ideal opening act, Thundercat, warmed up the minds and ears of Austin on this fine evening. Taking the stage with a beautiful big red bass guitar, wearing anime sweatpants, he and his band’s presence felt very raw and intimate. It almost felt as if we were in rehearsal just jamming and expressing new ideas on stage. Thundercat and the keyboardist were playing off of each other’s chords while the drummer was setting up a kinetic counterpart to the melodies. Playing a variety of experimental, visual sounds ranging from R&B to funk to rock, taking the crowd on a Journey that they may not have expected to hear. I think Thundercat was the perfect opening act, not only getting the crowd excited because of his credibility and notable tracks he played like, “Them Changes” and “Dragonball Durag”. But also because Thundercat’s incredible talent was a show in itself for open-minded individuals.

When Khruangbin came on, hitting the very first note, the entire energy in the venue shifted. All of a sudden the crowd was one with the sound. Each of the three members carries their own important part of the dynamic. Donald Johnson presents soulful tempos and patterns behind the drums. Mark Speer rounds out the sound with flawless tonality on the guitar. And last but most definitely not least, Miss Laura Lee. She is noted for being a fan favorite, and I along with most of the crowd had trouble taking my eyes off of her. Somehow she can captivate the entire crowd with beauty and grace, while effortlessly executing smooth baselines.

 Laura Lee and Mark Speer on stage at Germania Amphitheater.
Laura Lee and Mark Speer on stage at Germania Amphitheater / Kyle Hormighausen/KTSW

Walking around the venue and watching how humans were interacting and moving was probably my favorite part of the show. There was a welcoming, warm energy almost everywhere I went. One section of the pit was particularly special with a dance circle of free spirits interpreting the sounds with their bodies. The word “Khruangbin” is a Thai word meaning airplane. I discovered the meaning of the name shortly before the show and it was interesting to see it tie into their sound along with the energy of the crowd. The essence was almost as if you were flying, in a Khruangbin.

Mark Speer playing electric guita
Mark Speer playing electric guitar / Kyle Hormighausen/KTSW

Towards the end of their set, they played a compilation of covers that melded together. Hearing a psychedelic rhythm and blues twist on songs we all know and love was an exceptional way to wrap up the show. Starting with the familiar guitar riff from MF Doom’s, “Rap Snitch Knishes” which is an original sample from Metal Fingers’s “Coffin nails”. We also heard Tom Club’s, “genius of love” which is also a sample in Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” and most recently rapper Latto’s “Big Energy”. The compilation continued for about 10 minutes with many other songs like Ice Cube’s “Today was A Good Day” and Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game”. The group then left the stage briefly and came back on for a swelling encore. I can say with confidence that this will not be my last Khruangbin show. If you ever get the opportunity to see them live, I highly recommend attending.

Written by: Jordan Young

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