Onstage, the Texan trio Khruangbin are a strange sight to behold. At their sold-out show at London’s near-5,000 capacity O2 Academy Brixton last December, guitarist Mark Speer and bassist Laura Lee, dressed in long, black, heavily fringed wigs, sway in unison, while bald drummer DJ Johnson sits calmly in his poncho, pensively holding the groove. All three sing amorphous vowel sounds over Speer’s downtempo, wailing guitar melodies while the crowd of teens, jobbing musicians and parents savouring a night out howl along to the strings, trying to keep up with their electric range.
Formed in 2013 in Houston, Texas, Khruangbin have come a long way from their origins playing in the band of the same church that Beyoncé used to attend. With only the backing of the indie label Night Time Stories, the group have built a sizeable following who have kept them on the road almost continually for the past four years, a singalong crowd dedicated to the blend of easygoing funk, Tex-Mex and touches of west African rhythm they have showcased over two albums. They count Jay-Z among their fans, have 3.9m monthly listens on Spotify and were set to headline London’s 20,000-capacity Cross the Tracks festival this month. All this with a band name (meaning “airplane” in Thai) that most of their fans struggle to pronounce. On the face of it, the band’s crossover success is as peculiar as their stage presence.
Read the feature in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 30/06/20]