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Live Review: GG King, The Fresh & Onlys, King Khan & the Shrines @ The EARL, March 27

Written by Jhoni Jackson

Locally grown from Carbonas seeds, GG King played their raw, punk-inclined tunes as fast as their sound’s general tempo, cramming in as many songs as possible in the allotted time. The whole gang’s serious looks of concentration dominated their presence – until the drummer started making pig noises before the last song.

The Fresh & Onlys made their Atlanta debut with a performance much crisper sounding than their super-fuzzed recordings. The highly productive band had seven releases worth of songs to sort through, but covered their recent release, Grey-Eyed Girls, most thoroughly with a four-song stretch as the set’s centerpiece. Lead singer Tim Cohen let his scraggly, sweat-drenched hair cover the majority of his face while the band played their mash up of psych-pop, surf and garage-rock. But there’s even more to The Fresh & Onlys than those limiting genres. Spaghetti western nods heard on “500 Snakes,” from the band’s second release (a 7-inch EP on Dirty Knobby), were more insistent live than on recording. And there was even a touch of ‘50s soul in “I’m Gonna Be Your Elevator” (Grey-Eyed Girls). Subtle incorporations like these shaped the show – and the band’s sound in general – into more than just standard garage-rock.

Speaking of soul, headliners King Khan & the Shrines were wildly high on it from the get-go. After a long horn introduction from the band, Khan took the stage wearing a satin and sequin outfit (complete with matching cape) and a Viking-inspired, hard-to-explain hat. A female cheerleader followed close behind, wielding pom-poms and shaking them furiously to the beat that was already in full swing. It was the happiest, most energetic crowd I’ve ever seen at The EARL. The sold-out show was rowdy with dancing and fist-pumping for every doo-wop laced trip into wacky Khan’s rock and roll circus.

I’d seen King Khan with BBQ Show (Khan’s two-man band with Mark Sultan) and the Shrines each once before, but this was a particularly overwhelming response to Khan’s nutty theatrics.  At encore time, fans pounded the floor until Khan reemerged, still wearing his flashy cape, but sporting sequined hot pants and a tall, headdress-style hat full of upright feathers. The set’s elaborate ending included some eye trickery – fans watched as Khan hopped offstage into the crowd to the back of the venue, then all of the sudden the saxophonist appeared atop the bar for the grand finale. When he finally jumped down and resumed breathing, fans began to disperse. Khan then nonchalantly walked to the bar (as if he hadn’t been the focus of a musical spectacle seconds earlier) – and ordered a drink.

Follow Jhoni Jackson on Twitter @jhonijackson!

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