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New York Cool - Music

A-Bones/Vivian Girls/King Khan
& BBQ Show
Bowery Ballroom
November 30, 2008

Written by Matt Boyd
Photographed by Amy Davidson

Opposite Photo: Vivian Girls

Mike Lewis of A-Bones

The show opened with reunited Norton Records band A-Bones, a pretty straightforward rockabilly garage act- with the twist that the keyboardist is Yo La Tengo front man Ira Kaplan and the Vocalist is Yo La Tengo bassist Mike Lewis. It was definitely a fit primer for the revival-influenced sets that were to come.

Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls

The Vivian Girls were on second. Displaying that bravura that demands the constant suppression of any sort of enthusiasm, drummer Kickball Katy announced that Vivian Girls were departing the next morning, the 2nd, on an 8:00 am flight. They were going on a two week tour of England for which, singer and guitarist Cassie Ramone admitted, they had only been halfway prepared.

“We thought our flight was at 8:00 PM,” she admitted to the crowd.

They put the terrible burden of that shock behind them, however, rising above it all to open the set with a few songs off of their newly-recorded Surf’s Up EP. Further sucking it up and walking off the pain of all this tour business quite ably through the rest of their show, they pleased the crowd with their reverb-drenched light-speed strumming and the deal-sweetening ethereal touch of their high sing-song backing vox, all strained through an echo effect that reached karaoke-machine proportions.

Cassie Ramone stood high-heeled in ballerina flats, partially on her toes all night. Her contradictorily sulky yet towering pose seemed to merge the shy act of hiding behind her guitar and the standoffish act of defying it. Onstage she was equal parts Joey Ramone gawk, Joe Strummer confrontation, and wallflower aversion to the thing hanging around her neck drawing all that attention. Those moments when she was semi-upright between those times when she was bent over her the axe it was hard to tell who was weaker in the knees- the crowd or the band’s guitarist.

King Kahn

King Kahn

Headliners and Vivian Girls’ In The Red labelmates King Khan & BBQ Show took the hard working Canuck monarch of many stage incarnations (Khan spiced up the Deerhunter/Black Lips/Tall Firs show at McCarren Park Pool this summer with his enormous soul revue act King Khan and the Shrines) into stripped Blues-Rock territory. The single kick/single snare, two-man configuration was reminiscent of Fat Possum Records acts like T-Model Ford or Bob Log III.

The band consists of Kahn and Canadian blues rocker BBQ, the stage name of one-time one-man band man Mark Sultan. The duo performed in full show-band drag. Khan, of course, began the show in a golden veil, Aladdin shoes, and modesty-obliterating short shorts to go along with his enormous Diana Ross-esque wig. BBQ was perched in turban and cape on his chair with his guitar on his knee in front of his kick and snare drum. Together the pair hefted the hurdy-gurdy of expectations and bent genres into new territories. Khan at one point sat down cross-legged on the edge of the stage and interjected a raga via electric guitar into the juke-joint atmosphere. The whole thing was hilarious and high-energy.


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